Where to witness the ‘supermoon’ in Switzerland

Skywatchers should head above the clouds on Monday evening to see the ‘supermoon’ at its best, according to a Swiss meteorologist.

Where to witness the ‘supermoon’ in Switzerland
File photo: Juan Barreto/AFP

With clouds covering much of the country, the weather is hardly ideal for catching a glimpse of the moon, which will appear bigger than it has done since 1948.

Supermoons occur when the moon, which orbits the Earth in an elliptical shape, is closest to our planet. On Monday the moon will be closer than it has been since 1948 – only 356,509 kilometres away – and will also be full.  

The moon could appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter.

Early-birds could have seen the supermoon on Monday morning between 6.45am and 7am, but only above 1,600m altitude, meteorologist Ludwig Zgraggen told news agency ATS.

There will another chance in the early evening, when the moon rises between 5.15pm and 5.30pm, he said.

Generally the moon appears bigger when it is low in the sky.

But city-dwellers may miss out this time. The weather will be most favourable above 1,500m altitude in the Jura, Valais, Graubünden and on the south side of the Alps, said Zgraggen.

And if you aren't lucky enough to catch a glimpse, you'll have a long wait. The next time the moon is expected to be this close to the Earth is in 2034.

Image: MeteoSuisse

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Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland's best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland’s best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

At the same time, discharge levels on the Rhine, one of Europe’s major rivers which starts in the Swiss Alps, have never been so low in August since records began.

“There is a low water situation in Switzerland, especially on the central plateau and in the southern part of Ticino,” the country’s southernmost canton, said Michele Oberhansli, from the Federal Office for the Environment’s hydrology division.

READ ALSO: Water flown in by helicopter: How Switzerland has been hit by drought

“The reason for the existing situation is a precipitation deficit in the whole year of 2022, which affects the whole of Switzerland, as well as many other European countries,” she told AFP.

Soil moisture is down across the country and drought is affecting forests and agriculture, she said.

Lakes Constance, Lucerne, Lugano and Walen “are currently recording water levels that have never been so low in an August month since measurements began”, said Oberhansli.

Meanwhile Lakes Zug and Maggiore “continue to show values well below average”.

The shores of Lake Maggiore mark the lowest point in Switzerland, normally at 193 metres above sea level.

READ ALSO: MAP: The Swiss regions in danger of wildfires and the measures in place to avoid them

Except the lakes in the Jura region in the northwest and Lake Thun, the levels of all the other larger Swiss lakes are also below the long-term average.

Rivers down, glaciers melting

Meanwhile many Swiss rivers are recording readings that only occur once every two to 20 years.

“Discharge values on the Reuss and Rhine have never been so low since measurements began in August,” said Oberhansli.

The hydrologist said rain over the coming days should “slightly alleviate” the low water and drought levels, but would “not yet be sufficient to ease the overall situation”.

Following a dry winter, the summer heatwaves hitting Europe have been catastrophic for Switzerland’s Alpine glaciers, which have been melting at an accelerated rate.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

A layer of ice — 15 metres thick in 2012 — has covered the Tsanfleuron Pass between two glaciers since at least the Roman era.

But most of it has gone and the ice on the pass will have melted away completely by the end of September, a ski resort said last week.