A FULL Pink Super Moon will grace our skies next week – so get your cameras ready.
The lunar spectacle means the Moon will form an unusually giant disc overhead, and will be especially bright.
A Supermoon over LondonCredit: London News Pictures
It’s set to take place on Monday, April 26, and is known as a “Pink” Moon.
Sadly, it won’t actually be pink – the “Pink Moon” is just a traditional name for a Full Moon at this time of year.
Instead, it’ll appear bigger and brighter than a normal Full Moon – with an orange-gold hue.
The increased size is due to the fact that it’s a Super Moon this month.
A Super Moon is a combination of two different astronomical effects.
It’s when a new or full Moon coincides with a perigee – the Moon’s closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit.
A Moon has to come within 90% of its closest approach to Earth to be formally defined as a Super Moon.
That means the Moon needs to come within 224,865 miles of Earth and be a full Moon to boot.
First, you need a full Moon, which is when the Moon is fully illuminated from Earth’s perspective.
For that to happen, Earth needs to be located between the Sun and the Moon.
That means we’re seeing the entire full face of the Moon lit up by the Sun.
Although the Earth is between the Sun and the Moon, it doesn’t create an eclipse because the Moon’s position relative to our home planet is slightly skewed.
And for a Super Moon, you also need the Moon to be in the correct position in orbit around Earth.
A Super ‘Snow’ Moon rising last year in the UKCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
The Moon has an elliptical orbit, and isn’t always the exact same distance from Earth.
Its closest point is called the perigee, and its farthest is the apogee.
With a full Moon at the perigee, you get a Super Moon.
And with a full Moon at the apogee, you get a Micro Moon.
Super Moons are relatively rare, occurring just three or four times in a single year.
That’s because you need a full Moon to occur alongside close-to-Earth orbital positioning.
The 2021 Super Moons are in April and May, although the March Moon was very large – as the June Moon will also be.
The different types of Moons
Here are some of the most interesting moon phases and when to see them…
A Blue Moon refers to the occasion when a full moon appears for the second time in the same month, this is very rare and the next Blue Moon should occur on Halloween in 2020.
The Harvest Moon appears around the time of the autumnal equinox when farmers tend to do their main crop harvesting.
A Supermoon appears when it is at its closest point to Earth and therefore at its brightest, the next one will appear in September.
A Blood Moon occurs during a total lunar eclipse, the next one should happen in May 2020.
Each month of the year actually has its own special full moon name, as follows:
- January: Wolf Moon
- February: Snow Moon
- March: Worm Moon
- April: Pink Moon
- May: Flower Moon
- June: Strawberry Moon
- July: Buck Moon
- August: Sturgeon Moon
- September: Full Corn Moon
- October: Hunter’s Moon
- November: Beaver Moon
- December: Cold Moon
Next week we’ll all see a full “Pink Moon” rising.
Many astronomers stick to a strict definition of what makes a Supermoon, which only considers the closest Full Moons at perigee in a given year.
By this definition, there will be two Supermoons this year: Super Pink Moon on April 27 and Super Flower Moon on May 26 respectively
Thankfully, they’re easier to spot than almost any other astronomical phenomenon.
In other space news, Nasa has revealed some of its plans for colonising the Moon.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a shooting star you stand a good chance this month.
And, the Hubble Space Telescope has revealed new data about what may be the most powerful cosmic storm in the universe.
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