Kiwi stargazers might notice something a bit different about tomorrow’s full moon: It'll be a rare harvest 'micromoon'.
Our celestial satellite will look about 14 per cent smaller and a touch dimmer as its orbit brings it into apogee - the point where it’s the farthest away from Earth.
"As the moon is orbiting, the orbit is slightly egg shaped, so you get points where it is closer and farther away," explains astronomer Josh Kirkley.
When it's closer, that's what is called a perigee. Apogee is when it's just a little bit farther away within its orbit.
"We get full moons and new moons every single month, but for them to line up with apogee or perigee, that’s a bit more rare," Mr Kirkley said. "We get maybe a couple of then every year."
With this full moon falling on Friday the 13th in some parts of the world, superstitious stargazers might be prepped for some unusual phenomenon.
"That is really just the American Friday the 13th. It’s the 14th for us, so I think we’re okay in Aotearoa," Mr Kirkley said.
Unusual reactions to the full moon are well documented, and while science can’t explain what’s causing it, people are known to sleep poorly and feel extra energised during a full moon.
Mr Kirkley describes Māori warriors training all night knowing they’d need only a few hours’ sleep during a full moon. Our ancestors showed a keen understanding of maramataka, the lunar calendar, long before man stepped foot on the celestial body, he said.
If basking under the full moon on a spooky-ish night sounds like fun, then your best bet is to head outside on Saturday, Sept 14 at sunset around 6.20pm and look to the east.
"The best time to see the moon is actually when it rises," says Mr Kirkley. "You also get that really beautiful colour as it come up through the atmosphere. If you’re in Auckland up any of the maunga, you get really good views of the eastern horizon unobstructed."
Those in the lower South Island should have a clear view for any moon viewings, while a weather system moving over the North Island is likely to make things wet and cloudy for most.
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