The biggest and brightest full moon of the year will rise over the skies of the UK tonight, offering the best chance to view a supermoon in 2020.
April’s supermoon – officially referred to as a perigean full moon – will be the third month in a row for the rare celestial event. It occurs when the full moon is at its closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit.
On 7-8 April, the moon will get as close as 356,907km (221,772 miles) to Earth, making it appear bigger and brighter in the night’s sky.
The time of year means this full moon is known in folklore as the ‘Pink moon’, as it usually coincides with spring flower blossoms.
The best time and date to see the supermoon is at moonrise on Tuesday and at moonset on Wednesday, when it is close to the horizon.
This is due to an optical illusion that makes it appear even bigger due to its relative size to buildings and objects on the horizon. The supermoon’s peak illumination will take place just after 6pm GMT tonight, though it may not be visible until after sunset.
The term was first coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, who defined a supermoon as any full moon that was within 90 per cent of its closest approach.
The coinage and use of the term has been criticised by astronomers, however some welcome it as a way to encourage interest in astronomy. But supermoons aren’t hype, they’re special.
The supermoon will also have an effect on the Earth’s oceans, with the extra gravitational pull from the moon creating extra-high tides.
People living along the coast will notice them one or two days after the supermoon has passed, though any risk of flooding is unlikely unless the high tides are combined with severe weather.
Clear skies and reduced air pollution due to the coronavirus lockdown means April’s supermoon could be one of the best ever times to view a supermoon.