This month’s full moon will appear bigger, brighter and redder than usual, as the rare simultaneous occurrence of a supermoon and a lunar eclipse takes place in some parts of the world on 26 May.
May’s full moon is the second of two supermoons in 2021, with the previous one taking place in April. The term supermoon refers to the moon’s proximity to Earth, having first been coined in 1979 by the astrologer Richard Nolle. Any full or new moon that is within 90 percent of perigee - its closest approach to Earth - is considered a supermoon.
According to NASA, the full moon on 26 May will be 157 kilometres (98 miles) closer to Earth than April’s supermoon. Making the spectacle even more unusual is that it coincides with a total lunar eclipse for the first time in nearly two and a half years.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the orbit of the moon takes it into Earth’s shadow, blocking the sun’s light from reaching it. Instead, the light from the sunrises and sunsets on Earth are reflected onto the moon, making it appear reddish in appearance - earning it the ‘Blood’ moniker. So, wherever you are, keep your fingers crossed for clear skies.
But while the supermoon will take place throughout the world, the total lunar eclipse on the same date will only be visible across parts of the western Americas. A partial lunar eclipse will occur in large parts of the US and eastern Americas, as well as regions of east Asia.