BEIJING — The brightest moon in almost 69 years will be lighting up the sky this week in a treat for star watchers around the globe.
The phenomenon known as the supermoon will reach its most luminescent in North America before dawn on Monday. It will reach its zenith in Asia and the South Pacific on Monday night. Across the international dateline in New Zealand, it will reach its brightest after midnight on Tuesday local time.
In Israel, the moon will be brightest as it begins to rise in the east at around 5:00 p.m. Moon gazers are advised to watch the heavenly show with the naked eye rather than using binoculars or telescopes.
The moon orbits the Earth in an oval shape. The moon will be at its brightest this week because it is coming closer to the Earth along its elliptical orbit than at any time since January 1948. The supermoon will also bring stronger than usual high tides, followed by plunging low tides the next morning.
Viewers can expect to see a moon about 14 percent larger in diameter and about 30% brighter than when it’s at its furthest from the earth. It won’t be as big and bright again for another 18 years.
NASA says its closest approach will occur at 1:21 p.m. in Israel, when the moon will not be visible yet, but will come within 221,523 miles (356,508 kilometers). That’s from the center of the Earth to the center of the moon.
From India to Australia, skygazers and photographers were seeking the best viewing spots in the region where the phenomenon will be visible first, hoping that cloudy skies and the perennial pollution that blights many Asian cities will not spoil the fun.
To get the best view, Pascal Descamps of the Paris Observatory recommended that people choose somewhere with a well-known landmark in the foreground.
Supermoons are actually quite common — there is one every 14 months on average.
“But some supermoons are more super than others,” said Descamps.
According to the astronomy website earthsky.org, the term supermoon entered usage five years ago when the closest full moon fell on March 19, 2011. The scientific term is perigee full moon.
In 2034, the moon will come even closer, within 221,485 miles. That, too, will be a supermoon.