So far this year, lunar lovers have enjoyed three supermoons glowing dramatically larger in the sky. We got the Snow Moon on February 9, the Worm Moon on March 9, and the Pink Moon on April 8. There’s one more coming and we’ll wrap up the supermoon season this year. The “Flower Moon” will reach its peak illumination at 10:45 Universal Time on Thursday, May 7, 2020 . According to your local time, this might fall in the day time, but it doesn’t matter because you can view the 99%-lit moon both at moonset in the morning and at moonrise in the evening.
What exactly is a supermoon?
A supermoon (perigee-syzygy) is basically the same thing as a full moon – only that it appears larger and brighter than normal. The moon at this phase nearly coincides with perigee, the point in the orbit of the moon at which it is nearest to the earth. At this point, the moon is at 90% or greater of its mean closest approach to our planet. On average, a supermoon is about 7% larger and 15% brighter than a regular full moon.
Supermoons occur a minimum of three times a year and a maximum of four (usually when a year gets 13 full moons). The moon might also appear to have a pale yellow or orange tint. This visual effect is caused by the moon’s proximity to the earth’s atmosphere at that point . The scattering effect of the atmosphere would alter the color to a deeper shade other than the whitish silver it normally glows.
The supermoon this month is slightly farther away from the earth than it was during its previous occurrences, so it might not be as big or as bright as they were. However, it still qualifies as a supermoon since it’s only about 2,500 miles more distant from the earth than it was last month . April’s supermoon was the biggest and brightest of 2020, calculated to be 10% closer and 20% larger and brighter than a regular full moon .
Why is it called the Full Flower Moon?
The Native Americans had a special name assigned to each full moon of the year to help track the seasons and what each month brings with it. The moon is an important part of an ancient culture that cuts across many of these unique tribes. It’s inspiring how these nicknames are still being used and honored in the present day.
According to the Old farmer’s Almanac, the Full Flower Moon was named by the Algonquin tribes (now the northeastern United States) to signify the abundance of flowers that come with May – the heart of the spring season .
The names given to the moons varied according to the communities and what they held most significant for each month. Alternate names for the Flower Moon are the Corn Planting Moon Milk Moon, Mother’s Moon, and Frog Moon.
How to enjoy the lunar treat
The most important thing is to be at the right place at the right time, and if the weather conditions are favorable, you will get to see the moon shining bold and bright in the day and night sky.
Using a telescope or binoculars isn’t often recommended because it cancels the enlarged effect you’re trying to catch. Using an instrument would definitely enlarge the moon would, so there’s no way to enjoy that mental comparison to a regular full moon. The difference might only be ever so slight, but once you notice the color change, the hang of it will begin to set in.
People in different locations across the globe would observe the moon rise and set at different times, so you may want to find out the exact moonrise and moonset time for your city. There are also dozens of moon time calculator apps for free download, but they are not always accurate and you’d just have to be patient. The difference may only be a few minutes, give or take.
In contrast to the sun, the moon sets at sunrise and rises at sunset. In the morning, look to the west to see the Full Flower Moon setting, and at night, look to the east to see it rise.
It’s important not to miss out on this one because the next supermoon won’t be around until April 27, 2021.
- The editors. WATCH FOR THE FULL FLOWER SUPERMOON—THE LAST OF 2020! The Old Farmers’ Almanac. https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-may. Retrieved 04-05-2020
- The Moon Illusion. NASA. https://moon.nasa.gov/observe-the-moon-old/why-does-the-moon-look-so-big-when-it-rises/. Retrieved 04-05-2020
- Matilda Boseley. April pink supermoon: biggest and brightest full moon of 2020 to enter Australia’s skies. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/apr/08/april-pink-supermoon-biggest-and-brightest-full-moon-of-2020-to-enter-australias-skies. Retrieved 04-05-2020
- The Editors. FULL MOON NAMES. The Old Farmer’s Almanac. https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-names. Retrieved 04-05-2020
- Supermoon. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/solar-system/supermoon/. Retrieved 04-05-2020
- Algonquin Tribes. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Algonquin. Retrieved 04-05-2020
- Moonrise and Moonset Calculator. Time and Date. https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/. Retrieved 04-05-2020
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