People around the world, trapped in their homes amid a health crisis, have something to look forward to this week when the full moon appears as a supermoon for the second of three times this year and in its most spectacular form.
A phenomenon known as the Super Pink Moon will make an appearance over a couple of nights this week. It will be the biggest and brightest on Tuesday, but its appearance on Monday and Wednesday will also be worth viewing.
Housebound people are more likely than usual to want to step out into their yards or poke their heads out of their windows to watch this so-called supermoon and develop a new appreciation for the natural world or renew an old one.
A full moon appears approximately once a month. When the moon gets closest to the Earth in its orbit, it appears bigger and brighter than usual and is called a supermoon.
A supermoon can look up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than a regular monthly full moon.
Most years have 12 full moons, but this year will have 13, three of them supermoons. The April supermoon follows the one of March 9 and precedes the one coming on May 7.
In the United States, the April supermoon is also known as the Pink Supermoon, a name given it by Native Americans because it comes out around the time the moss pink wildflower is in bloom. April’s full moon promises to be the most spectacular full moon of this year because it will be closest to the Earth while in its “full” phase. The distance between the two on April 7 will be 356,906 kilometers.
The timing for the April supermoon varies in different parts of the world. On the U.S. West Coast, this year's Super Pink Moon appears about 7:30 p.m. on April 7, and in Sydney, Australia, at 12:30 p.m. on April 8. But the best time to watch it anywhere is after sunset, when the sky darkens and the moon rises over the eastern horizon.
Experts say there is no need to look for its peak at 100% illumination because the moon is then so white and bright that you cannot look at it for more than a few seconds. Those who do not have an east-facing view can wait for the moonset on April 8. It is expected to be as spectacular as the moonrise.
The year 2020 will also have a rare blue moon. A blue moon is the second full moon in the same month – something that happens only every 2½ or three years. English-language speakers are familiar with the phrase “once in a blue moon,” referring to something that happens rarely. This year’s blue moon will fall on Halloween, October 31, something that happens once in two decades, so that makes it even more special.
Moongazers will have plenty to watch in 2020 and under the current circumstances, watching night sky events could gain more attention among people who have had little interest in them before.