You’ve Got One More Chance to Catch a Supermoon in 2020
It’ll be super big and super bright—it’s the last supermoon of 2020 and it’s happening the night of May 7.
If you missed the supermoons in March and April, you have another chance on the night of Thursday, May 7. Don’t get used to them happening every month, though. The next supermoon isn’t until April 2021, so if the weather’s nice this week, don’t miss this chance to see an especially big, bright moon.
Some “moons” you may have heard of, like wolf moons, blue moons, and harvest moons, are not really anything out of the ordinary visually. They’re just names give to ordinary full moons occurring at certain times of the year. (Or in the case of a “blue moon,” twice in one month.)
A supermoon, though, really is an impressive sight. A full moon gets promoted to supermoon status when it occurs especially close to the Earth. On Thursday night the moon will be almost as close as it ever gets to us, and it will also be full, and so we will have a third and final supermoon of 2020.
What will the supermoon look like? A lot like other full moons you’ve seen, but about 7% bigger and 15% brighter than average. The good news about supermoons is that they are one of the easiest astronomical phenomena to see. For one thing, they’re enormous. It’s hard to miss a full moon in the sky if it’s at all clear. The second thing they have going for them is that supermoons, like any full moon, are always rising just as the sun is setting, so you won’t even have to stay up late to see this one. (The exact time that the moon rises and sets depends on your location, but it should be in the neighborhood of 8:45pm.)
To get the very best view, look for a viewing spot with good sightlines toward the east. The full moon always looks largest near the horizon, so try to get out earlier rather than later. Wherever you go, though, please don’t forget to maintain social distance. Supermoons are cool, but not as cool as staying healthy. Besides, this is one night-sky event that you can probably see from inside your own home. Just be sure to turn the lights out in the room you’re in to get the best view of the outside.
And what if the weather doesn’t cooperate? Then you can view the supermoon the way we do everything now: online. The Virtual Telescope Project will have a webcam trained on the moon rising over Rome, with an available live stream starting at 11:30 am PT.
We didn’t have the best luck taking pictures of the last supermoon, but hopefully we’ve learned from our mistakes, so we’ll be out again on the night of the 7th. If you manage to get any good shots, we’d love to see them! Tag us on Instagram: @sunsetmag.