The Pink Supermoon, which is the biggest and brightest of the year, is expected to appear over UK skies tonight.
Supermoons are the most impressive of full moons, and in 2021 we're being treated to two.
Here's everything you need to know about sighting the pink moon tonight.
What is a supermoon?
A supermoon occurs when we get a full moon at the same time the Moon is orbiting closest to Earth.
The Earth isn't at the centre of the Moon's orbit, meaning the moon travels around Earth in more of an ellipse shape. Because of this, our distance from the Moon varies at different points in the year.
When the Moon is farthest from Earth, it's called a 'lunar apogee' and when it's closest to the Earth it's a 'lunar perigee'.
If the lunar perigee occurs at the same time as a full moon (which occurs roughly every 28 days), we get a supermoon. This is also why we don't get a supermoon every month, because the lunar perigee doesn't always coincide with a full moon.
"Supermoons have become popular over the last few decades," wrote NASA's Gordon Johnston in a blog post.
"The term 'supermoon' was coined by the astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and refers to either a new or full Moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth"
Pink Moon meaning
The Pink Moon gets its name from Native American tribes, who likened it's pink hue to a North American moss which, you guessed it, was pink.
The Phlox Subulata - commonly called 'creeping phlox', 'moss phlox' or 'moss pink' - bloomed in April each year, which coincided with the Pink Moon. It's also been called the 'Fish Moon', the 'Sprouting Grass Moon' and the 'Egg Moon', to name a few.
Is the Pink Moon actually pink?
Though it is called the 'Pink' supermoon, it doesn't always appear pink. Tonight's Pink Supermoon could actually appear more orange. The colour of the Pink Moon depends on a number of factors such as clouds, dust, smoke and air pollution, which can all filter the Sun's rays and alter the colours we see reflecting off the moon.
How can I see the Pink Supermoon?
The Pink Supermoon will be at its most visible at different times depending on where in the world you're viewing it from.
If you're in the UK, the Pink Supermoon will peak at 3:31am on Tuesday, 27th April, and the lunar perigee occurs later that day at 3:24pm, according to the Astropixels moon calendar. But the Pink Supermoon will be visible for a couple of days either side of that.
Along the East Coast of the U.S. (EST), the full moon occurs at 10:31pm on Monday, 26th April and lunar perigee at 10:24am on Tuesday, 27th April.
"So long as there's not too much cloud, the full Moon will be an unmistakable white orb in the sky," according to the Royal Museums Greenwich.
"This is a good opportunity to use a small telescope or a pair of binoculars to see the Moon's detailed surface, or even try taking a few interesting moon photos."
"However, you can see the Moon perfectly well with just your eyes. Seeing moonrise just after sunset or moonset just before sunrise will be an impressive sight as it will appear enormous compared to the surrounding landscape."
Supermoon dates 2021
There are two supermoons in 2021. The first occurs on 26/27th April and the second is on 26th May.
"The full Moons in April and May are nearly tied as the closest full Moons of the year." Said Johnston.
"The full Moon on May 26, 2021, will be slightly closer to the Earth than the full Moon on April 26, 2021, but only by a slim 0.04%!" - If you're counting.
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash/uomo libero