If you’re a fan of big beautiful orange moons rising over the plains shortly before sunset, keep a sharp eye out on Monday evening if the sky is clear.
A supermoon will rise Monday at 7:34 p.m., 15 minutes before sunset. Astronomy fans call it a supermoon because the moon will be full and it will be near its “perigee,” meaning the point in its orbit when it is relatively close to earth. The actual perigee of 222,135 miles will occur 9:23 a.m. on Tuesday, according to a post on the NASA Science website.
Only two weeks later on May 11, it will be at its farthest (apogee) of the year at 252,592 miles. But on May 26, when we see the closest supermoon of the year, it will be only 222,048 miles away.
Confused? The distance does not remain constant because the moon has an elliptical orbit, and the earth is not at its center.
Because the definition of supermoon is highly subjective — some observers go with two, three or four in a year, based on the moon’s distance from earth — Monday will either mark the first or second of the year. Most observers say there are two or three supermoons this year. Those who counted last month say there are four this year.
And by the way, the next supermoon figures to be the most exciting celestial event of the year because a lunar eclipse will occur in the western sky that morning, beginning at 5:11 a.m.
The super moon on Monday is known as the Pink Moon and has a few other names as well.
“In the 1930s the Maine Farmer’s Almanac began publishing American Indian Moon names for the months of the year,” the NASA Science website explains. “According to this almanac, as the full Moon in April, this is the Pink Moon, named after the herb moss pink, also known as creeping phlox, moss phlox, or mountain phlox. The plant is native to the eastern United States and is one of the earliest widespread flowers of spring.
“Other names for this Moon include the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes of North America, the Fish Moon, as this was when the shad swam upstream to spawn.”
If you can’t get out Monday night — or if the sky is overcast — the moon will appear full Sunday night, Monday night and Tuesday morning.
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