British astronomers may spot a “supermoon” this week, when Earth’s natural satellite appears at its biggest and brightest this year.
The May Full Moon, also known as the “Flower Moon,” is expected to be visible at dawn on Wednesday (May 26), when the moon is at its closest point to Earth, although full illumination is does not happen until later in the day.
What is a super moon?
A super moon occurs when the full moon is closest to Earth, while a flowering moon is the name given to the full moon in spring, as it appears at the same time as the blooming flowers.
The moon is about 238,000 miles from Earth on average, but during a supermoon it can be 221,000 miles away, making it appear much larger and brighter than normal.
This month’s full moon will coincide with a total lunar eclipse in some parts of the world, although unfortunately this is not visible from the UK.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is completely obscured by the Earth’s shadow, giving it a reddish tint.
The color change occurs because sunlight is bent as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, creating an effect known as “Rayleigh scattering,” which filters out bands of green and purple light in the atmosphere during an eclipse to leave only a red glow.
It is from this phenomenon that the term “blood moon” comes from.
The United States will have the best view of the eclipse, which will also be visible in Antarctica, Australia, Asia, and North and South America, but unfortunately it will not be seen from the United Kingdom.
Patricia Skelton, astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, explained: “People watching the supermoon from the western United States, western South America, Australia or the Southeast Asia will see the supermoon take on a crimson red hue as a lunar eclipse takes place on the same day.
“This change in color is not due to a physical change that is happening on the moon, but simply because the moon will be drifting in the shadow of the Earth.
“Earth’s atmosphere bends the sunlight and bathes the moon in a crimson red light.
“Although British astronomers cannot see the lunar eclipse, the super moon is still worth a look.”
When to see the super flower moon
Although the lunar eclipse is not visible in the UK, it will be possible to spot the super flower moon later this week.
Ms Skelton said the best time to see the super moon would be in the early hours of Wednesday (May 26) morning, or later that evening the same day after sunset.
She said: “A supermoon occurs when a full moon occurs at the same time, or near the time, that the moon reaches its closest point to Earth – a point called perigee.
“The perigee occurs at 2:51 am on May 26, with the full moon occurring at 12:14 pm on the same day.
“The super moon will rise in the east about half an hour after sunset and will be visible all night.”
During this time, Earth’s natural satellite will appear about 14% larger and 30% brighter.
Ms Skelton added: “To get the best views of the super moon, wait until the moon rises higher in the sky.”
More about this article: Read More
This notice was published: 2021-05-24 06:53:53