Supermoon lights up the sky

Supermoon lights up the sky
A supermoon is seen over downtown Bangkok August 11, 2014. The astronomical event occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit, making it appear much larger and brighter than usual.

GEORGE TOWN - Thousands of skywatchers who stayed up late were treated to the unfolding of one of the year's most dramatic lunar phenomenons - the supermoon.

Universiti Sains Malaysia's (USM) Astronomy Club academic adviser Assoc Prof Dr Chong Hon Yew said the perigee moon (the moon's closest approach to Earth) occurred at 1.44am, while the full moon was seen 25 minutes later at 2.09am yesterday.

"When the perigee occurred, the moon was 356,896km away from Earth.

"This is also known as the supermoon phenomenon, which usually happens once a year," he said.

According to Nasa, a full moon at perigee - the point in its orbit that is closest to Earth - is up to 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than normal.

Dr Chong also encouraged the public to look out for the Perseid and Geminid meteor showers.

"The Perseid meteor shower over Malaysian skies will occur at 3.30am tomorrow. It comes from the constellation of Perseus," he said.

"Another one is the Geminid meteor shower, which is expected to take place on Dec 13.

"I have been observing the Geminid meteor shower for the past 15 years.

"This year's will be the one to look out for," he added.

Dr Chong also recalled an eight-hour "stare-fest" for some 30 club members at the Sheikh Tahir Astronomical Centre at Pantai Acheh in Balik Pulau on Dec 13, 2004.

"That night, I managed to see 1,103 Geminid meteors and made over a thousand wishes.

"It was an amazing sight of fireballs in blue, green and red," he said.

The USM Astronomy Club will conduct a star gazing session in September every Friday evening at 9.30pm at USM's Padang Kawad.

Telescopes and star charts will be provided. Admission is free.

Call Dr Chong at 016-315 7318 for details.

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