Another “Super”Moon Tonight

The Weather Authority

Our first “super” moon of 2021 is tonight. Viewing around North Alabama and Southern Tennessee should be fairly good. We’re continuing to see some thin, high cirrus clouds move in from the Northwest this afternoon, and that will continue overnight.

That may lead to some filtered moonlight at times, but I doubt we get enough cloud cover to totally block out the “super” moon.

For any astronomy photographers out there, it may be difficult to get a really clear shot, but for those casual star-gazers, it won’t be a huge problem.

Why do you hate the Supermoon, Alex?

I’m so glad you asked! You see, it seems over the past several years, “super” moons have gone viral. Cool-looking photos of massive-looking moons on the horizon flood social media, and thus, “super” moons get a lot of media attention (I’m writing about it right now after all). A quick Google search shows this year’s first iteration gets an even more clickbait title:

A PINK Supermoon!

Oh yeah. That’ll get the clicks alright. A massive, pink moon in the sky! One problem.

The moon will not be pink.

The “Pink Moon” is simply the first full moon in Spring. According to CBS News:

April’s full moon is called a Pink Moon after the herb “moss pink,” Phlox subulata.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pink-moon-supermoon-april-tonight-2021-04-26/

I guess the Phlox Subulata moon doesn’t have quite as nice a ring to it.

So that takes care of the “pink” part, but now let’s talk about the “super” part. Supermoons are simply full moons that occur when the moon is in perigee (the closest the moon gets to earth in its orbit). That means that these full moons look a little brighter and bigger than a normal full moon. How much bigger and brighter? Usually, around 10-15% brighter than a normal full moon, and 5-10% bigger in the sky. What does that look like?

Image Source: https://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/2014/08/normal-moon-vs-super-moon/

This really just leaves me with one reaction:

If you enjoy staring up at the moon at night, you should do it! A full moon over the Tennessee Valley is a beautiful sight. Just don’t buy the hype around “super” moons. They aren’t all that super.

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– Alex Puckett
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