full moon flower moon

The full moon is seen in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, behind the Deutschorden church (L) and the roof of the Dreikönig church on May 10, 2017. Photo: AFP/Frank Rumpenhorst

Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse: May’s Flower supermoon will be a sight to behold

May’s full moon is almost here! What is a blood moon? What is a supermoon? What is a lunar eclipse? Will the blood moon be red? We’re glad you asked.

full moon flower moon

The full moon is seen in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, behind the Deutschorden church (L) and the roof of the Dreikönig church on May 10, 2017. Photo: AFP/Frank Rumpenhorst

It’s that time of the month again, folks! May’s Full Flower Moon is set to light up the night sky this week. But wait, there’s more. Not only will be a full blood super, it will also coincide with a total lunar eclipse.

So, to recap: It’s a full moon, a supermoon, and also a blood moon.

You don’t want to miss this one – it will be the first total eclipse since January 2019, and the first of four eclipses to occur during 2021. And yes, the moon will be basked in a blood-red glow.

Full Flower Moon factsheet

Why is it called Full Flower Moon?

Every full moon of every month has a specific title. The Full Moon in January is called “Wolf Moon”, while February’s is known as “Snow Moon”, and April has it’s “Pink Moon”.

It is known by a few other names as well: Mother’s Moon, Milk Moon and Corn Planting Moon. In the same way, May’s full Moon is referred to as a “Flower Moon”, because this period in May is known as a time of increasing fertility.

Have you ever seen Camelot?

Watch: The Lusty Month of May

When is the Flower Moon at its peak?

Unfortunately for us in the Southern Hemisphere, the Flower Moon reach its peak at 7:14 Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), or 13:14 South African Standard Time on Wednesday, 26 May.

The peak is the moment when the moon is exactly on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun. The technical phrase for this alignment is a “syzygy of the Sun-Earth-Moon-system”.

At the precise moment of the Full Moon alignment, the Moon will only be visible in the night part of Earth, with a few exceptions. Sadly, the moon at the daytime is not nearly as impressive.

Full Flower Moon and is the last supermoon of the year, sets behind the Statue of Liberty on May 7, 2020 in New York City. Photo: AFP/Johannes EISELE

But that doesn’t mean we’re missing out. The Moon will still appear full at night. In fact, it’ll appear fuller as ever thanks to the Flower Moon also being a supermoon.

Supermoon and blood moon

May’s ambitious full flower moon will be a lot of things at once, including a blood moon (yes, it will really be red) and a supermoon, which occurs when a full moons coincides with a perigee.

If the moon is closer than 360 000 kilometres from Earth, it is classified as a supermoon. May’s flower moon make the cut as it will be 357 474 kilometres from our lovely planet.

The term blood moon is used to describe the phenomenon of a total lunar eclipse and the reddish hue of the moon during an eclipse.

The ‘Flower Moon’ rises behind a building in Tokyo on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

What is a lunar eclipse?

The term “blood Moon” has evolved over the years. It used to refer to a series of four total eclipsed Moons in a row. Also known as a lunar tetrad. Two Christian pastors used the phrase in a book about an upcoming lunar tetrad which would bring about the apocalypse.

Before that, it was another name for a Hunter’s Moon. Different types of full moons have different names: Wolf Moon in January, Snow Moon in February, Worm Moon in March, and so forth. Hunter’s Moon occurs in October. But it’s not red.

Today, the term blood Moon is simply used to describe the phenomenon when the Moon eclipses totally and appears reddish in colour.

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The Flower Supermoon rises over Curitiba, Brazil on May 7, 2020. – The supermoon is visible as the full moon coincides with the satellite in its closest approach to Earth, which makes it appear brighter and larger than other full moons. (Photo by DANIEL CASTELLANO / AFP)

How can I see the Full Flower Moon?

You don’t need any fancy equipment. It will be visible to the naked eye; simply head out, find the Moon and look up. The entire face of the Moon is illuminated by the Sun’s rays and is bright enough to light up otherwise dark nights.

It will be visible in the night sky from sunset at 17:25 on 26 May 2021 to sunrise at 6:46 on 27 May. According to Accuweather, Johannesburg is clear with periodic clouds tonight, while Cape Town will be, unfortunately, mostly cloudy.

When is the next full Moon?

You’ll only have to wait another month. The next lunar phase will start on 21 June. It is known as Strawberry Moon. The name comes from the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries in northeastern North America.

Other names for June’s Strawberry Moon include Hot Moon, Mead Moon, and Rose Moon