Last supermoon of 2020 will be beautiful tonight under clear (chilly) skies


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Flower Moon will be full at 6:45 a.m. EDT on Thursday morning May 7, and will provide us with a gorgeous view under rare clear skies these days.

The Flower Moon is named for the appearance of colorful blooms in the Northern Hemisphere in gardens and woodlands, along with an array of wildflowers.

We have the added bonus Wednesday night of enjoying the last supermoon of the year for the third (or fourth) consecutive month, depending on the definition. The term “supermoon” is credited to the astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, which is based on the occurrence of a full moon at 90 percent (or greater) of perigee, when the moon is closest to Earth. Perigee came on May 5 at 11:03 p.m. EDT. (A more specific criterion is that the full moon must be no more than 225,00 miles from Earth at perigee.)

The moon’s distance from Earth changes throughout the year because its monthly orbit is not completely circular, which affects the apparent size of the moon from our vantage point. A supermoon makes the moon seem slightly brighter and bigger (closer).

The closest perigee of the year happened on April 7, 2020, at a distance of 221,772 miles from Earth, shortly after the greatest apogee on March 24, 2020, when the moon was 252,707 miles away. The moon’s average distance from Earth is 238,855 miles.

The sun completely illuminates the side of the moon facing Earth every 29.5 days, when the moon is technically full, but the elliptical (eccentric) orbital configuration limits the number of supermoons we observe to at most three or four per year, when the moon can appear as much as 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a micromoon (when a full or new moon is farthest away). This is known as the “moon illusion” because the brain sizes things up compared to surrounding objects near the horizon.

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