One of the great events to grace our skies every year are supermoons. The first full supermoon will be be brightening the skies of London on August 29. For people who haven't heard this term before, a supermoon is when the moon is closest to the Earth and brightest.
A supermoon (Attribution: Flickr - Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel)
Some Supermoon facts
Astronomers study the heavens, but they tend to be a practical and unromantic group, and so they would rather use the term perigee full moon. A perigee is the the point in the moon's orbit where it comes closest to the Earth. That sounds far more accurate, but let's face it, supermoon sounds much more exiting.
During the supermoon, the moon is closer to the Earth and so is indeed objectively larger. However when most people look at the supermoon they won't be able to notice the difference. This is because the size that the moon appears is an optical illusion. So normally the moon appears larger closer to the horizon than it does high in the sky.
While the moon won't appear larger to the eye, it will appear much brighter than a normal moon. So bright in fact, that is you can escape city lights, you will be able to see clearly without torches.
August 29 moonrise and August 30 moonset times
This supermoon sees the moon rise at 7:36 pm, 20 minutes before sunset. This is often the best opportunity to take photos of the moon over a partially lit landscape. The moon is also going to set after sunrise, which is great for early morning risers.
Moon through the London Eye (Attribution: Flickr - Ruth Hartnup)
Remember, also that the moon with be close to full and bright for several days around the supermoon, so if you don't have a chance to enjoy the moon on August 29 or it is rainy or cloudy, then you may have more luck on other days.
Popular Supermoon activities
Watching the moonrise is a popular activity. The two best opportunities for a good moonrise view is over water and with a cityscape. London's River Thames is perfectly orientated to provide plenty of opportunities for both.
Moon over Southwark Bridge (Attribution: Flickr - Metro Centric)
Even better, thanks to the rise of rooftop bars in London there are plenty of places to enjoy a pint or cocktail and the view at the same time. The trick is to know exactly where the moon will be rising. On August 29 it will rise 12 degrees south of true east, but move north, with the highest point being 60 degrees north of East.
If you know of a great spot for watching the moonrise, add them to the comments.
The supermoon is an opportunity for many people to try their hand at moon photography. With the moon rising before sunset, you won't even need a tripod or fancy camera. Though once the sun starts going down you will really need that tripod to provide a steady place to rest the camera. While you won't need a DSLR to take moon photos, a camera that allows you to at least adjust aperture and timing is very helpful.
To avoid camera shake from pressing the button, it helps to have a remote control for your camera. But you can also use the camera's timing function to do the same.
Moon over the Thames in Kingston (Attribution: Flickr - Iain Buchanan)
As said before, the great joy of the supermoon is the bright moonlight. But you can really only experience this if you can escape the city lights. Even a park can be enough to experience this, but if you have the time I would recommend a journey into the countryside.