How to see the ‘pink’ supermoon

Set your alarm folks because there’s going to be a spectacular ‘pink’ supermoon dancing across the sky this evening. Here’s when to see it.

Those turning their gaze to the skies on Tuesday evening could be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the “pink” supermoon.

Well, it’s not actually pink but it is certainly bright.

According to NASA, the name comes from the pink phlox, a flower in the US that blooms around the same time as the “pink” moon appears.

“Supermoon” is the unofficial name given to full or new moons that happen when a moon reaches its closest point to earth, which makes it appear bigger and brighter.

They’re not uncommon, and star gazers will be treated to more than one this year.

The first will be visible on Tuesday night, and the second is due to light up the skies on May 26. It will be a total lunar eclipse that will turn into a blood moon.

“Different publications use slightly different thresholds for deciding which full moons qualify as supermoons, but for 2021 all agree the two full moons in April and May are supermoons,” NASA’s Gordon Johnston said.

The “pink” supermoon will appear just after midday on the east coast. But it will be another 12 hours, just before or after midnight depending on the time zone, until it reaches its brightest point.

For those on the east coast that is 1.22am, 12.52pm central time and 11.22pm for residents in the west.

These times are when the moon will be within 90 per cent of perigee – its closet approach to earth. If perigee happens within 24 hours of a full moon, it’s also a supermoon.

Experts often call this event a perigee-syzygy moon.

But people don’t have to wait up all night to get a glimpse of the supermoon in all its glory. It will be visible as soon as the sun sets and it will be bright for about three days.

“The best time to see it will be early evening, about 7pm tonight. And then it will stay for maybe the next three days. But tonight is the best night to see it,” Dr Christopher Matthew at ACU and The Western Sydney Amateur Astronomy Group told NCA NewsWire.

City slickers may have to wait until a little later to spot the moon, which may be obstructed by buildings as it rises into the night sky.

Other than that, clear weather conditions are essential.

Speaking to NCA NewsWire, professor Tim Bedding, from Sydney University’s institute for astronomy, said the supermoon would take on an orange hue due to burn-offs in Sydney.

It will also appear orange as it makes its way over the horizon.

“When it’s just rising off (the horizon) it looks that orangey colour just like the sunset does, and that’s because the atmosphere scatters the light sideways and leaves a red light,” he said.

“So there’s some science to that part.”

The supermoon is likely to have an impact on the ocean, with slightly higher tides expected.

It will also be significantly brighter for the next few days.

Professor Bedding said the moon would appear larger when it sits low in the sky, but that is simply an illusion concocted by the human brain.

When the moon is high in the sky there’s nothing to compare it with, but when it lingers just above the horizon this isn’t the case.

“There’s another phenomenon which is quite pretty … when the moon is close to the horizon it looks bigger because of the way the brain works,” he said.

“Many people often comment on this. If you are prepared to wait a few hours later this evening, you can see that it really is a powerful illusion.”

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