Vancouver’s cloudy weather affects supermoon viewing

The supermoon on Nov. 14 was covered by clouds most of the evening, but some residents were able to catch a glimpse late at night. Photo by Alison Pudsey.

Reported by Alison Pudsey and Nico Hernandez

The biggest supermoon of the 21st century was somewhat blocked by cloudy skies in Vancouver this past Monday night, but Vancouverites may have a chance to see another one like it a month from now.

The supermoon on Nov.14 was the largest one since 1948 and is the closest it has come to earth in the past 69 years. The moon’s orbit was closest to the Earth and when the moon is at perigee it is the closest distance to the planet, making it appear 10 per cent wider, 15 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than normal. Scientists predict another moon like this won’t happen again until Nov. 25, 2034.

Clouds block the view of the supermoon

The recent rain in Vancouver brought clouds which obstructed the view of the moon, however some were able to catch a glimpse of it later in the evening.

Charlie Rudd, president of Langara’s Space & Astronomy Club, said that weather can often impact viewing, especially when using a telescope.

“No matter how big your telescope is, if it’s cloudy you won’t be able to see anything,” said Rudd.

Although Vancouver is known to be rainy in the winter months, Rudd said it is sometimes possible to see the supermoon on a cloudy night.

“It depends on the type of clouds though. If it’s just overcast, then no, it’s basically impossible,” said Rudd. “However, if there are breaks in the clouds you may be able to get a glimpse at the sky.”

The supermoon peaks through the clouds overlooking downtown Vancouver. Photo by Alison Pudsey.

Optical illusions play tricks to the mind

Benoite Pfeiffer, an astronomy professor at Langara, said that even though people perceive the moon to be bigger than usual, minds can easily be tricked by optical illusions.

“Do you think you can hide the supermoon behind the tip of your pinky finger?” asked Pfeiffer. “The Full Moon is often perceived as being much larger close to the horizon than when it is above our head, even though the lunar disk has exactly the same size.”

If you missed out on viewing, don’t be discouraged as another supermoon is set to happen on Dec. 14 as well.  The full moon in December may not be as large as the November supermoon, however it will block the ability for viewers to see the Geminid meteor shower, as the intense moonlight will reduce its visibility.


 You can find good viewing spots for the next supermoon near Langara College on this map.


Other countries were lucky that they didn’t have a cloudy night. Here is what the supermoon looked like from other places.

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