From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Lunar Eclipse
Mains level : Not Much
The Moon will have the nearest approach to Earth on May 26, and therefore will appear to be the closest and largest Full Moon or “supermoon” of 2021.
What is a Supermoon?
- A supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest to the Earth at the same time that the Moon is full.
- As the Moon orbits the Earth, there is a point of time when the distance between the two is the least (called the perigee when the average distance is about 360,000 km from the Earth).
- Also, there is a point of time when the distance is the most (called the apogee when the distance is about 405,000 km from the Earth).
- Now, when a full moon appears at the point when the distance between the Earth and the Moon is the least, not only does it appear to be brighter but it is also larger than a regular full moon.
- According to NASA, the term supermoon was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979.
- In a typical year, there may be two to four full supermoons and two to four new supermoons in a row.
What is happening today?
- Two celestial events will take place at the same time.
- One is the supermoon and the other is a total lunar eclipse, which is when the Moon and Sun are on opposite sides of the Earth.
- Because of the total lunar eclipse, the moon will also appear to be red.
- This is because the Earth will block some of the light from the Sun from reaching the moon.
- The Earth’s atmosphere filters the light, it will soften “the edge of our planet’s shadow” “giving the Moon a deep, rosy glow.”