Super Flower Moon: How to spot the last supermoon of 2020

May 06, 2020

The last supermoon of the year is set to illuminate the skies over the UK on Thursday.

Known as the Flower Moon, it signifies spring and the flowers that bloom during the month of May.

It will appear full for around three days, from Tuesday evening through Friday morning, but is expected to be especially prominent on Thursday.

NASA said on its website: "The next full Moon will be on Thursday morning, May 7, 2020, appearing opposite the Sun (in Earth-based longitude) at 6:45am EDT."

This means the moon will be the most visible at approximately 10:45pm UK time.

Greg Brown, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory, explained: "Technically the exact moment of full moon is 11.45am, however the moon will not be visible in the sky in the UK at that time."

The moon will appear bigger than usual on Thursday morning, when it sets at around 5.42am in London, as well as on Thursday evening, when it rises at around 8.44pm.

He said: "Times for moonrise and set vary slightly across the UK, but not by more than about 10 minutes or so."

This full moon will also be a supermoon, meaning it will be around 6% bigger than a typical full moon.

Supermoons are also around 14% bigger than micromoons, which occur when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth.

Full moons occur when the moon is on the opposite side of the earth to the sun.

Dr Brown said: "The moon's orbit around the Earth is not entirely circular, instead a slightly flattened circle or ellipse.

"As such, it is sometimes closer to and sometimes further away from the Earth.

"While definitions vary, a supermoon typically occurs when a full moon coincides with the moon being within the closest 10% of its orbit."

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The US space agency also explained: "Going by the seasons, as the second full Moon of spring, the Native American tribes of the northeastern United States called this the Flower Moon, as flowers are abundant this time of year in most of these areas."

Other names include the hare moon, the corn planting moon, and the milk moon, according to Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Thursday's supermoon will be the third and final on of the year, Dr Brown said.

He continued: "Because of how the dynamics of orbits work, these usually occur in runs of two or three with longer gaps of several months between each set of supermoons."

The next supermoon will be visible in April 2021.

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