A FULL Super Flower Moon will fill the night sky later this month – and it’ll look fantastic.
Get your cameras ready: the Moon will soon appear as an unusually large and bright disc.
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How to watch the Flower Moon in the UK and US
It’s set to take place on Wednesday, May 26 – and is known as a Flower Moon.
That’s the traditional name for this Moon, and doesn’t mean anything in particular about the shape, size or colour of our space neighbour.
However, it will be big and bright, and sport an orange-gold hue.
That’s because it’s a Super Moon, a reasonably rare lunar spectacle.
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 per cent 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.
When is the Flower Super Moon 2021 in UK and US?
In the USA, the May Super Moon will reach its closest point in the evening of May 25.
The perigee – which is the closest part of the Moon’s orbit – falls at 9.51pm New York time.
But the Full Moon’s true occurrence takes place the day after, at 7.14am New York time on May 26.
In the UK, the Full Flower Moon will occur on May 26 at 11.32pm.
It will be possible to see the Super Moon on May 25 and May 26 in the UK.
The Moon will appear full for around three days, from Monday to Thursday.
What is a Super Moon?
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 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 rare and the next Blue Moon should occur in August 2023.
The Harvest Moon appears around the time of the autumnal equinox when farmers tend to do their main crop harvesting.
A Super Moon 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 name, 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
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.
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 Moon was very large – as the June Moon will also be.
Many astronomers stick to a strict definition of what makes a Super Moon, which only considers the closest Full Moons at perigee in a given year.
By this definition, there will be two Super Moons 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.
Want to know more about the weird and wonderful world of science? From space and astronomy to the human body, we have you covered…
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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.
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