Monday, 21 May 2012

The morning after the supermoon

I’m late with this post (sorry, been busy) – it’s about the supermoon at the beginning of May. Its rise coincided here in the Riebeek Valley with our annual Olive Festival. I was cooking up a storm inside (where it was cozy and warm, thanks to our first fire of the season – like clockwork, we got our first substantial rain on the weekend of the Olive Festival), but I did set up the telescope outside for people to go out and have a look at the moon. I was a little surprised at the lack of interest but discovered the next day why this was.

My telescope is a Towa 30X-90X60mm Zoom, and using it you can see the hills and valleys on the moon – it’s really spectacular. It’s a refracting telescope, which means it’s got two lenses: an objective lens, which produces an upside-down image; and an eye lens, which both puts the image the right way up and magnifies it. And a nimble-fingered little visitor a few weeks ago carefully unscrewed the eye lens and dropped it on the floor, and it rolled away under a table (where I finally found it after a worried search). Obviously, without the eye lens, the image is way too small to appreciate – hence the lack of interest in the supermoon through the telescope.

A supermoon, which occurs when the moon is nearest to the earth and looks much bigger and brighter than usual, rises about once a year. Astronomers call it a perigee-syzygy moon (fabulous name, don’t you think?). The picture at the top was taken by Kenny Nagel of the May supermoon rising above Cape Town.

I missed the photo-op on the Friday night, but I took this picture the next morning, over the roof of my house, of the moon setting over the Kasteelberg at 7.30 in the morning, in very bright sunlight.

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