LIFE IN LOCKDOWN | Day 13: Look out for the spectacular pink supermoon

It'll be the biggest and brightest full moon of 2020

08 April 2020 - 00:00 By nomvelo masango
We hate burst your bubble, but the pink supermoon won't be pink. It's so named because in the northern hemisphere the first full moon of spring occurs at the same time a particular type of pink flower blooms.
We hate burst your bubble, but the pink supermoon won't be pink. It's so named because in the northern hemisphere the first full moon of spring occurs at the same time a particular type of pink flower blooms.
Image: 123RF/Wouter Midavaine

Stargazers are in for a treat: there's a pink supermoon on the rise on Wednesday April 8, and it will be the biggest and brightest full moon of 2020.

Supermoon is the term used to describe what happens when a full (or new) moon occurs at the same time that the moon is at the point closest to the Earth in its monthly orbit.

During this phenomenon, which can occur several times a year, the moon can appear larger and brighter than usual.

Carmel Ives, chairperson of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, confirmed that tonight's moon will look roughly 10% bigger and appear 30% brighter than normal. 

What it won't be, however, is pink.

The pink moon is the name given to one of the 12 full moons we routinely get to admire each year. It owes it name to a type of pink wild flower which blooms in the northern hemisphere in early spring.

According to Ives, the sky will continue its exhibition of extraordinary sights later this month when the comet Atlas (also known as C/2019 Y4) puts in an appearance. 

Expected to be the brightest comet to be visible in more than two decades, Atlas will come closest to Earth on April 23, with its closest approach to the sun occurring on April 31.

The comet is predicted to be at its most visible around May 1 when it may be visible to the naked eye. 

With the night sky showing off so spectacularly, it would be ideal to have a telescope handy. If you don't have one, Ives suggests you try a pair of binoculars.

• From gripping series to watch, to fun crafts to do with your children, we'll be adding a new activity to our “Life in Lockdown” series every day. Keep an eye on timeslive.co.za for tomorrow's instalment.