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SUPER Moons are a rare and stunning lunar event that only takes place a handful of times a year.
The sky is filled by a bright and giant Moon, which is a real treat for stargazers.
A Supermoon over LondonCredit: London News Pictures
What is a Super Moon?
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.
How does a Super Moon happen?
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.
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.
When is the next one?
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 and June Moons are also very large in the sky.
Our next Supermoon-esque treat is on Thursday, June 24.
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.
Just pray it’s not a cloudy night…
A Super ‘Snow’ Moon rising last year in the UKCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
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 phenomenon, they are 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.
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.
Do you make a point of looking up at Super Moons? Let us know in the comments!
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