There hasn’t been a whole lot of good news in 2020, but here’s something to get excited about: Tuesday night’s full moon — the “super pink moon” — is going to be the biggest and brightest of the year. At least that’s the trick it will play on our eyes.
Thanks to the moon’s ovoid orbit, the satellite is sometimes closer to Earth than others. April’s full moon happens to coincide with the closest it will come in 2020 and even though the object obviously never changes in size, it will seem larger than at any other point in the year.
“It’s mostly media hype,” Joe Guzman, aka, Chicago Astronomer, said of the recent fuss over supermoons. “But hey, it gets people out to look up at the sky, so bring it on.”
In fact, he said, astronomers prefer to look at the moon between its crescent and half-moon phases, when deep shadows make things like the tops of mountains more visible.
“The full moon, things are kind of washed out,” he said.
Guzman, an astronomy instructor with After School Matters and a resident astronomer with the Chicago Park District, should know. He’s been star- and moon- and galaxy-gazing since he was a young boy, first with his dad’s binoculars and then with his very own telescope, a Montgomery Ward model his mom bought for him when he was eight.
“How could you not be in awe of the cosmos?” he asked. “We all came from the hearts of stars, we are stardust. We’re looking back home. That’s where we came from and we want to reconnect.”
Decades later, he still can’t get enough of the moon.
“Our ancient ancestors saw the same moon that we see today,” Guzman said. “It’s always there. You can always count on the moon to be there.”
For Tuesday’s “super pink moon” (April’s full moon is named for the color of creeping phlox, an early spring bloomer), Guzman recommends catching the “moon rise” at approximately 7 p.m., when the orb is low on the horizon.
“The moon looks bigger near the horizon because, for the most part, we have items to compare it to, like buildings,” he said. “When it gets higher, the moon appears to shrink.”
It will also appear to change colors as its rises, starting out a deep red, then shifting to orange, pink and silver, all due to the refractive properties of the Earth’s atmosphere, said Guzman.
Now more than ever, he said, we could all benefit from a bit of celestial magic.
“In these stressful and anxious times, we can always seek solace in the cosmos. From crescent to full moon phase, the moon keeps us company and beckons us for attention,” Guzman said.
As isolated as people may feel at the moment, the supermoon has the power to bring us together, he said.
“When you look at the moon, you’re sharing the sight with me and people around the world,” said Guzman. “We’re all connected via the moon.”