May’s Full Flower Moon will be the last supermoon of 2020 [photos]
Bring some moonshine to your lockdown with May's Full Flower Moon. The supermoon will appear unusually large but it’s still only 361 184 kilometres from Earth.
It’s that time of the month again, folks! May’s Full Flower Moon lights up the night sky. Get a good look; it will be the last Supermoon of 2020. Here’s what you need to know.
Full Flower Moon factsheet
When is the Flower Moon at its fullest?
Unfortunately for us in the Southern Hemisphere, the Flower Moon reached its peak at 12:45, during the day. It’s the moment when the Moon is exactly on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun.
The technical phrase for this alignment is a “syzygy of the Sun-Earth-Moon-system”. At the precise moment of the Full Moon alignment, the Moon will only be visible in the night part of Earth, with a few exceptions.
But that doesn’t mean we’re missing out. The Moon will still appear full tonight. In fact, it’ll appear fuller as ever thanks to the Flower Moon also being a Supermoon.
Why is it called Full Flower Moon?
Every full moon of every month has a specific title. The Full Moon in January is called “Wolf Moon”, while February’s is known as “Snow Moon”, and April has it’s “Pink Moon”.
It is known by a few other names as well: Mother’s Moon, Milk Moon and Corn Planting Moon. In the same way, May’s full Moon is referred to as a “Flower Moon”, because this period in May is known as a time of increasing fertility.
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What is a Supermoon
When a full moon coincides with a perigee, we get a Supermoon. The Moon tonight will appear unusually large but it’s still only 361 184 kilometres from Earth. The Pink Moon in April was 356 910 kilometres from Earth.
The benchmark for a Supermoon has been set at 360 000, meaning that this year’s Flower Moon makes the cut. It might not look bigger than usual to the untrained eye, but experienced observers will detect the difference.
That said, the Moon will definitely be brighter. This is due to the angular diameter – it’s about 7% greater than that of an averagely sized Moon, and 14% greater than the diameter of a Micromoon – also known as an apogee.
How can I see the Full Flower Moon?
You don’t need any fancy equipment. It will be visible to the naked eye; simply head out, find the Moon and look up. The entire face of the Moon is illuminated by the Sun’s rays and is bright enough to light up otherwise dark nights.
It will be visible in the night sky from sunset at 6:18 to sunrise at 5:59 on Friday 8 May. According to Accuweather, Johannesburg is clear with periodic clouds tonight, while Cape Town is, unfortunately, mostly cloudy.
When is the next full Moon?
You’ll only have to wait another month. The next lunar phase will start on 5 June 2020. It is known as Strawberry Moon. The name comes from the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries in northeastern North America.
Other names for June’s Strawberry Moon include Hot Moon, Mead Moon, and Rose Moon