SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -
The Moon will be at its closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit or also referred to as the perigee, making it appear bigger and brighter in the sky tonight. Tonight’s supermoon peaks at 10:35 pm and is referred to as the 'Super Pink Moon', the largest supermoon of 2020. The Moon will appear 14% larger, and 30% brighter than a typical full Moon. While, the Moon won’t appear pink, the name comes from herb moss pink, which is one of the earliest flowers to bloom in spring.
"The most important thing for observing the moon tonight is to first do it safely and obey any local restrictions on congregating. We want people to be safe, whether that means watching the moon from your window, from your living room, dining room window or just stepping out onto your front porch. But we don't want people getting together. We want to maintain the social physical distancing," says Dr. Noah Petro, NASA Scientist.
The craters that are visible on the Moon, can help astronomers better understand the solar system. Dr. Petro says, "Over the last 10 years we're observing new impact craters that are forming nearly continuously. And with that information, we're learning about the cratering process. When a meteorite strikes the surface of a planet, how does the Moon respond? How does it change? Take that information from the Moon and apply it to Mercury, and apply it to Pluto, and everything in between. The moon is telling us something very fundamental about how planets work."
NASA is planning a new mission to the Moon through the Artemis lunar exploration program. This program is designed to:
- Demonstrate new technologies, capabilities, and business approaches needed for future exploration including Mars
- Establish American leadership and a strategic presence on the Moon while expanding our U.S. global economic impact
- Broaden our commercial and international partnerships
- Inspire a new generation and encourage careers in STEM
"The goal of landing humans on the Moon by 2024 is obviously a very exciting opportunity for us; To not only expand our presence in our solar system deeper, with the eventual goal of going to Mars. But, also learn more about the Moon, learn more about the nearest neighbor in space. There are many questions that we don't have answered," states Dr. Petro.
The 50th Anniversary of Apollo 13 is April 17th. This mission to the Moon was labeled as ‘a successful failure’, that saw the safe return of its crew in spite of a catastrophic explosion. Dr. Petro says, “We’re about ready to launch the next crew to the space station in a few days and I think the echoes of Apollo 13 tell us is the in crisis in space, we can overcome any obstacle.”
When you are taking photos of the moon tonight make sure to use #observe the moon, and @nasamoon when posting it to social media.