'Flower Moon': How and when to watch the final supermoon of 2020

An airplane flys past a supermoon as it rises in the sky Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Stargazers will be treated to the fourth and final supermoon of the year when the Flower Moon makes its appearance in the celestial skies this week.

While it bears no resemblance to an actual flower, NASA says the Flower Moon received its name because flowers grow so abundantly at this time of year. The spring supermoon has also been called the Milk Moon, the Corn Planting Moon, and the Vesak Festival Moon, according to the U.S. space agency.

The term supermoon was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and is used to describe a full or new moon that is at its closest point to Earth, or its perigee, during its orbit. To be labelled a supermoon, NASA explains that the full moon has to be within 90 per cent of perigee.

According to the space agency, supermoons can appear up to 14 per cent larger and up to 30 per cent brighter than a regular full moon.

There have already been three supermoons in 2020; however, the Flower Moon will be the last one before April 2021 when a Super Pink Moon is expected.

HOW AND WHEN TO WATCH

The Flower Moon will start to appear full on Tuesday night and potentially overshadow the spectacle of the Eta-Aquariid meteor shower, which is expected to peak in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The Flower Moon will reach its peak at 6:45 a.m. ET on Thursday and will continue to appear full on Friday night as well, according to NASA.

For the best viewing experience, the Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests venturing outdoors the night before on Wednesday or on Thursday night to see the supermoon because it will be below the horizon at its peak.

To see the Flower Moon as it sets or rises beyond the horizon, the most dramatic effect, look up the time of moonset and moonrise for your location and plan to be there a few minutes early.

People who want to view the full moon as it sets, around the time of sunrise, should gaze west, while those who want to see it when it rises, around the time of sunset, should look to the east.

Stargazers should also try to be on a higher floor or elevated position and to bring binoculars if they want to see the supermoon in its finer detail. 

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