Don’t Miss Tonight’s Pink Supermoon
Coronavirus can’t take stargazing away from us. Treat yourself tonight to the sight of the largest, brightest full moon you’ll see this year.
Does it seem like we have a supermoon every other month or so? It’s true that these events aren’t incredibly rare, but they are an impressive sight, and tonight’s will be the last and the best of 2020 (weather permitting, of course).
Unlike some astronomical events, a supermoon is such an easy thing to spot that you don’t need any kind of optical equipment at all to enjoy it. You don’t even have to go outside. Just look to the eastern horizon after sunset. You’ll see an especially bright, remarkably large full moon rising as the sun is going down.
What’s going on? Well, it’s no secret that the moon revolves around the Earth. A more obscure tidbit of info is that the moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle. It’s an ellipse, so sometimes it’s closer to the Earth than at other times. When a full moon happens at a time when the moon is between 90 and 100% of its nearest possible approach, that’s known as a supermoon. If you’re a frequent moon observer, you’ll notice that this moon appears slightly brighter and a little bit larger than the average full moon—because it is slightly closer to us than the average full moon. It will be even a tiny bit bigger and brighter than last month’s supermoon. No more of these will happen in 2020, so this is your best chance for a while.
One last thing: You may have heard this particular supermoon referred to as a pink supermoon. Unfortunately, this isn’t mean literally—the moon will be the same color it always is. (Although if you catch it close to the horizon, it does usually look a little red, just like a setting sun does.) Every April full moon is known as a pink moon because its rise roughly coincides with the blooming of pink phlox in much of North America.
We wish you clear skies tonight. If you should happen to get a photo you want to share, tag us on Instagram. (#sunsetmag)