Skywatchers may have gotten a little spoiled in 2019, with three consecutive “supermoons” appearing during the first three months of the year. Will 2020 be as good?
Astronomy experts say two supermoons will be shining in the sky this year, and one month — October — will have two full moons, making the second a “blue moon” that will be glowing on Halloween. How’s that for an eerie treat?
Although blue moons occur once every two or three years, they are even rarer on Halloween, says AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada. “After the blue moon on Oct. 31, 2020, trick-or-treaters will need to wait until 2039 to see the next blue moon on Halloween,” he noted.
Supermoons are moons that become full when their orbits are closer than average to the Earth — making them appear to be slightly bigger and as much as 30% brighter than ordinary full moons.
Although the precise definition varies in the astronomy world — and some experts say the average stargazer won’t notice the size and brightness difference — most say a supermoon is a moon that tracks less than 223,000 miles from the Earth during its full phase. (Some say any full moon that is 226,000 miles or closer to the Earth can be classified as a supermoon, and others set the cutoff at the precise distance of 223,694 miles.)
Regardless of the exact definition, astronomy websites seem to agree that 2020 will feature at least two supermoons — one on March 9 and another on April 7. Worth marking down on your calendar: Space.com says the April full moon will be the biggest of the year, because it will be the closest one to our planet.
Dates of each full moon in 2020
In case you want to do some sky watching or photo snapping, here’s a list of the dates and times of each full moon in 2020, along with their most common nicknames. (Thanks to the Farmers’ Almanac, the Old Farmer’s Almanac and TimeAndDate.com for the details.)