Simma Sky: Why Supermoons are such a big deal

May 2020 features the last full super moon of the year - the super flower moon. Catch it the night of May 7. Moonrise over Jacksonville, FL slated for 8:39 PM according to timeanddate.com.

The full moon in the month of May is known as the “flower moon” because May is typically the month that flowers start blooming and life really gets going before summer makes things too hot. March, April and May actually brought us three super moons in a row: March 9-10, April 7-8, and May 7. The closest of these was in April, when the full super moon was a mere 212,000 miles away. Some would argue that super moon was the only TRUE super moon, though some consider a super moon to be any full moon that comes within 90% of its closest approach to Earth - astronomer Richard Nolle coined that definition in 1979. Some also believe the name super moon is just a media hype thing. There is a difference between these super moons closer to Earth and just plain ole full moons (image courtesy EarthSky.org):

Peter Lowenstein superimposed a mini-moon (full moon at apogee, its farthest from Earth for that month) on a young crescent moon (covered over in earthshine) near perigee, its closest to Earth for that month. The size difference is proportionally similar to that of a U.S. quarter versus a U.S. nickel.

I captured the March full moon on the Action News Jax First Alert Skycam Network over Fernandina Beach, FL in the early morning hours:

Robert Randall sent me the April full moon from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:

Stay tuned to my Twitter and Facebook feeds for the May supermoon.

Three supermoons also occur in consecutive months later in 2020: New moon supermoons occur in September, October, and November. But they’re new moons so we won’t be able to see them here on Earth. Notice that this group of supermoons is also consecutive months - just like the group we’re right in the middle of that I mentioned above. EarthSky dives pretty deep into some fascinating math behind recurring supermoons. Very interesting read.