Whether you are a dreamer or not, keep your eyes on the skies, if you want to catch the moon illuminate the sky in all its glory tonight. A rare celestial spectacle, on May 7, 2020, the moon will appear round and full to the eye as it lights up the night from dusk until dawn. May’s full moon is 2020’s third and last full supermoon in a series of supermoons that began in March. It is also the third-closest, third-biggest and third-brightest full moon of the year, according to astronomy news site EarthSky.
In case you’ve already missed witnessing the first two supermoons - the Worm Moon in March and the Pink Moon in April, this is your last and only chance as the next one isn’t until April 2021. According to NASA, the supermoon will appear full for about three days around the same time from Tuesday evening through Friday morning – so you’re in luck if you miss Thursday’s lunar show.
But wait, what is a Supermoon?
Supermoon is a stage when a full moon has the closest approach – almost 90 percent to the earth’s orbit, explains Gaurav Anand, an astronomer and the co-founder at the Wondrous Heaven Astronomical Observatory in Badlapur, Mumbai. The term “supermoon” was, however, coined by the astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979.
What makes a supermoon look majestic beyond words is that they can be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the usual Moon. According to Space.com, the full moon measures about 31 arc minutes, or 0.52 degrees wide in the night sky on an average, but on May 7 it will be about 33 arc minutes or 0.55 degrees across. While to the naked eye, the difference may not be that evident, the sparkling supermoon still makes for a gorgeous treat whether or not you’re a regular sky gazer.
Why is the
May Supermoon called Super Flower Moon
This month’s supermoon is known as the Super Flower Moon – no, the moon won’t look like a flower – because the month of May ushers in the spring season and sees the blooming of wildflowers, explains Anand. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, “The May full moon marked a time of increasing fertility, with temperatures warm enough for safely bearing young, a near end to late frosts, and plants in bloom."
Reason why Native Americans too referred to it as the Flower Moon. Besides, the May full moon is also known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Full Milk Moon.
How to Watch
the Super Flower Moon
According to NASA, the Super Flower Moon will appear to be the biggest and will have attained peak illumination at 4:15 pm today. At this time, the moon will be at a distance of 361,184 kilometers from Earth. While the moon will only be rising in India at 7:06 pm, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to catch the beauty. “Supermoon is not like a solar eclipse that lasts only for a few minutes; they happen for a longer duration, sometimes even for two days,” explains Anand, while telling us that we can witness the moon in its full glory even after 7 pm.
While binoculars and telescopes are not specifically required, these tools can give you a clearer view and more details of the moon. You’ll be able to spot craters like the Copernicus, Tycho, and also the landing site of Apollo 11, in the Sea of Tranquility, on the moon’s surface. Be warned that, if you’re using binoculars or a telescope to see the supermoon in more detail, you will need a filter to protect your eyes, Space.com reported.
Watch the Super Flower Moon Live
If the skies aren’t clear, you can always tune into live astronomy webcasts online.
1. The online observatory Slooh will be broadcasting a live star party via YouTube. You can also watch it live on Space.com or directly through Slooh's YouTube channel.
2. Explore.org, through its livecams, is also giving you the opportunity to watch the Supermoon from the comfort of your home.
3. Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of The Virtual Telescope Project in Italy will be holding a free live stream beginning at 12:00 am IST on Friday.
If the weather cooperates in your location, full moons make for spectacular photographs, says Anand, a travel photographer himself. During a Supermoon, the Moon usually rises and sets during the golden hour, when colours are particularly rich.
1. First, it’s important to find the moonrise and moonset times in your local area. Anand suggests using applications such as Google Sky Map for Android and Celestron Sky Portal for iOS to track the moon and its timing.
2. Whether you plan to photograph the supermoon using your phone camera or a DSLR, between 7 pm to 10 pm is the perfect time slot to picture the night landscape, says Anand.
3. It’s best to scout your location. Look for buildings, lakes, and monuments as they reflect light, add extra oomph to your picture. If you plan on taking your photograph around moonrise and moonset, when the Moon is just above the horizon, adding other surroundings to your picture makes the Moon look larger than life.
Other Night Sky Events of May 2020
8 May: Eta-Lyrid
12 May: Moon - Jupiter - Saturn Conjunction
14 May: Moon - Mars Conjunction
18 May: Jupiter - Saturn Close approach
22 May: Venus - Mercury Conjunction, New Moon Day
24 May: Moon-Venus -- Mercury Conjunction
Lead Image: Shutterstock
Inside Images: Gaurav Anand, Vision of GAP