Physics department holds lunar party

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(Katie Albertson / Daily Titan) Astronomy professors provided telescopes to students to gaze upon November’s Supermoon.

Astronomy students and fellow Titans from all majors gathered together on the lawn across from the engineering building Monday night to witness the first supermoon, or the closest full moon to Earth, since 1948.

“We usually typically look at the stars on special nights, tonight we have the supermoon,” said Catiana Huante, a child adolescent development major at Cal State Fullerton.

The name “supermoon” comes from the fact that the moon appears 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a normal full moon and is used to describe a full moon at its perigee, which refers to the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closer to Earth, according to NASA.

“We see supermoons on other occasions too, but not as bright or as big as the one today,” said Shovit Bhari, a staff physicist.

The event was aimed to give astronomy students extra credit for viewing the moon, with the intent of having the students take advantage of an opportunity to observe and look at the moon in greater detail. However, anyone was welcome to take a look at this rare occurrence through one of the three telescopes provided by the physics department and faculty.

“I came out here because my communications professor told us to see it because it won’t happen again until 2030,” said Natilee Duran, a communications major.

Regardless of the reason, people in attendance had the opportunity to see something that hasn’t happened in almost 69 years.

In addition to viewing the supermoon, some students were able to see phases of Venus and the rings of Saturn through the telescopes, Bhari said.

Students formed lines behind one of the three telescopes. The ones brought from the department were Smith Cassegrain reflecting telescopes.

Reflecting telescopes use curved mirrors to reflect light toward a focus point, making an image.

Mountains and craters on the moon were visible enough to be seen, Bhari said.

“Just seeing the moon in full detail was really interesting. You could see a whole bunch of craters that had been forming, just the landscape of the moon. I’ve never seen the moon with that much clarity,” said Jakob Castro, political science major.

It was earlier in the evening when the moon was just rising above the atmosphere where it appeared orange, Bhari said. Even so, when the moon no longer looked orange, it was still much brighter than any other night.

“Light pollution is the biggest obstruction in this area. Whatever we can see, to expand our knowledge, we try to show them everything,” Bhari said.

The full moon is not expected to come this close to Earth again until Nov. 25, 2034, according to NASA.

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