Technology & Science

Supermoon and hunter's moon combine for 'spectacular' view this weekend

Two lunar events — a supermoon and a hunter's moon — will occur simultaneously this weekend, making for a particularly bright and beautiful night sky.

'If you have a telescope collecting dust in a closet, this is a perfect time to take it out,' expert says

A supermoon rises over houses in Olvera, in the southern Spanish province of Cadiz, in July 2014. (Jon Nazca/Reuters)

Don't forget to look up this weekend.

Two lunar events, a supermoon and a hunter's moon, will occur simultaneously Oct. 15 and 16, making for a particularly bright and beautiful night sky. 

A supermoon is a colloquial term for when a full moon makes its closest approach to the Earth and appears slightly larger and brighter than normal. 

This weekend's supermoon will coincide with a hunter's moon, or October's full moon, which rises earlier in the evening. 

"It is kind of an interesting coincidence that these two different cycles — the length of time it takes the moon to orbit the Earth and the time between successive full moons — just happened to line up," Victor Arora of the University of Waterloo's Gustav Bakos Observatory told CBC News.

The moon will appear about 14 per cent bigger than the smallest full moon and one per cent brighter than September's harvest moon, Arora said. 

A supermoon shines above Toronto in May 2012. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

"Because it's a hunter's moon, we're going to see a nice, spectacular full moon several nights running and the peak of that is going to be on Saturday night," said Dave Hanes, a professor of astronomy at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.

The best time to catch a glimpse, says Hanes, will be at sunset, when the moon first appears over the horizon.

"Just look out in the east and you'll see a very nice moon, which can look beautifully coloured, sort of reddish in colour, because you're looking at it through a lot of the Earth's atmosphere."

A full moon rises at dusk over Vancouver's Granville Street Bridge as a pedestrian walks across in August 1999. A full moon on the horizon appears red because of how we see it through the thickness of Earth’s atmosphere. (Reuters)

While the hunter's supermoon should be visible from just about anywhere, Arora suggests people get a closer look if they can.

"If you can get your hand on a pair of binoculars, seeing the moon through binoculars is amazing. If you have a telescope collecting dust in a closet, this is a perfect time to take it out and have a look at the moon," he said.

"It's honestly one of the best things I think you can look at through a telescope, and it [the moon] can be seen pretty much anywhere on the Earth, whether you're in a large light-polluted city or if you're off in the country and under a pristine dark sky."

A stork is silhouetted against a supermoon in its nest in downtown Arriate, in the southern Spanish province of Malaga in July 2014. (Jon Nazca/Reuters)

But if you miss it, don't fret. There's a bigger, better supermoon coming in November.  

The Slooh Community Observatory, an online astronomy platform with live streams of telescopes around the world, calls it "the only true supermoon."  According to the science news website, at 356,509 kilometres, it will be the closest moon to the Earth in the 21st century so far and won't come that close again until 2034.

About the Author

Sheena Goodyear is the digital producer for CBC Radio's As It Happens. Originally from Newfoundland and Labrador, her work has appeared on CBC News, Sun Media, the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, VICE News and more.