The “most super” of this year’s supermoons is set to take place later this month – and it will be the only total lunar eclipse of 2021.
A supermoon occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth at the same time as it is full – known as perigee – making it appear particularly large and bright in the sky.
This month’s full moon is the second of three consecutive supermoons in 2021, with the previous one taking place in April.
Stargazers can expect a celestial treat when looking up at the supermoon this month – when it will be 98 miles closer to Earth than April’s supermoon and falling at the same time as a lunar eclipse.
When is it happening?
This month’s super flower moon will occur on Wednesday, 26 May at 11.32pm.
In the US, the supermoon will reach its closest point to Earth on the evening of 25 May.
What’s so special about this one?
The supermoon will also be a blood moon as it will coincide with a lunar eclipse – where the sun and moon occupy precise positions on opposite sides of Earth.
As a result, some of the sun’s light is blocked from reaching the full moon by the Earth and light is filtered by the atmosphere as it passes.
Watch: Rare total lunar eclipse comes with a super 'Blood Moon'
This filtering softens the edge of the Earth’s shadow and makes the moon appear brighter and the rose glow will be more colourful.
University of Auckland senior lecturer of physics Nicholas James Rattenbury explained to New Zealand’s 1 News: "What's happening is that the light from the sun is partly going through the Earth's atmosphere and the blue light gets scattered down to us – that's why the sky appears to be blue – and the red light which is left over, keeps on going through the atmosphere and gets bent onto the surface of the moon, kind of like a lens.”
Who will be able to see it?
Stargazers across the planet will be able to observe the supermoon at night if the sky is clear, and will be at its highest point between the late part of the night and the very early hours of the morning.
However, the lunar eclipse that occurs at the same time will not be able to be seen by everyone.
Western parts of the US, Canada and the whole of Mexico will be able to catch a glimpse of the eclipse, while most of Central America and Ecuador, western Peru, and southern Chile and Argentina will be able to see it near moonset.
For those on the the Asian Pacific Rim, the total eclipse will be visible just after moonrise, Nasa said.
Observers in eastern Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, will see both the total lunar eclipse, as well as the partial eclipse.
Why is it called a ‘super flower blood moon’?
Supermoons are so named because of their bigger and brighter appearance than what is usually seen in the night sky.
The use of ‘blood’ in the nickname is due to the red shade that is seen during the total lunar eclipse.
Various nicknames are also given to full moons each month by the Farmers Almanac, with the May moon traditionally given the ‘flower’ moon monicker.
Combining all the terms gives the full ‘super flower blood moon’ name.
How can I watch it?
Even if the event will not be visible from your location, livestreams have been set up to allow anyone to watch
A global streaming event is also available to be viewed on timeanddate.com, with the feed starting at around 9.30am GMT.
Watch: Supermoon lights up skies across the world