DAVID NIELD7 APRIL 2020
We could all use a distraction or two right now, and what better way to take your mind off what’s happening on this planet than by gazing at another celestial body? This Wednesday 8 April you’ll be able to see a ‘super pink Moon’ in the night sky.
It won’t actually be pink, but it will appear to be the biggest and brightest of all the full Moons of 2020 – those points every 29-and-a-half days when Earth is right between the Moon and the Sun, meaning we get to see the Moon completely lit up.
This time around, we’re getting what people often call a ‘supermoon’ as well as a full Moon, because the Moon will be in perigee: the closest possible point to us in its elliptic orbit, a mere 357,035 kilometres or 221,851 miles away from Earth.
A supermoon can appear 7 percent bigger than an average full Moon, and 15 percent brighter, too. That’s pretty exciting for astronomers, even if the difference may not always seem dramatic from Earth – we can’t easily compare full Moons side by side.
And, as we well know, supermoons tend to attract quite a bit of poetry. This time around, the event is also being referred to as ‘pink’ thanks to the beautiful Phlox subulata flowers that bloom in spring in the US and Canada (also known as moss pink).
Even if it’s not going to loom pink, we think looking up at the night skies to admire the bright ball may give us all a few minutes of respite from worrying about these trying times that we’re all going through.
The pink supermoon will be visible in the night skies over Australia on the evening of Wednesday 8 April. If you’re following in the UK, the brightness peak will be in the early hours of April 8, and for US moon-watchers the best time to get out and look up is the evening of Tuesday 7 April.
As it happens, we’re actually in the middle of a run of supermoons right now, with March, April and May all having one. If you miss this one, you won’t have to wait long for the next opportunity.
This is also going to be the first full Moon after the equinox, the first full Moon of spring (in the northern hemisphere) – this is how the date of Easter is set each year, which is why this coming Sunday is Easter Sunday.
If you want an even closer look at our nearest neighbour in space, we can direct you to this stunning collage of 100,000 high resolution photos of the Moon’s surface.