The moon is getting closer, bigger and brighter.
But not to worry, in a couple of weeks the familiar astronomical body that orbits the earth will be about 50,000 km further away than it will be during this week’s full moon.
However, before the moon moves further along its elliptical path it will on Wednesday evening be just a mere 357,082 km from our planet. That shortened distance results in making the orb appear larger while taking on a pinkish hue.
It’s events such as this so-called ‘supermoon,' or pink moon, that attracted amateur astronomer Stan Williams to the hobby that has consumed much of his spare time for the past couple of decades.
“It’s on an elliptical orbit so there are certain times during the year when it comes closer to our planet and that makes it look bigger,” said Williams, who as a co-chair of the Cape Breton Astronomical Society can often be found at the organization’s observatory located at Two Rivers Wildlife Park, situated along the north bank of the Mira River about 10 km south of Marion Bridge.
“At the moonrise, you will see the reds and pinks more than you see anything else, but once it gets up higher it is just going to turn white again.
“It’s the same reason why stars twinkle and that is because our atmosphere refracts the light so we see different colours at different times – the reds travel slower than blues do so, that’s why we see different colours of stars when you at them through our atmosphere.”
If the skies are clear, residents in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will be able to see the phenomenon shortly after the moonrise both tonight and Wednesday evenings. Tonight, the moon rises at 7:08 p.m. when 98.4 per cent of it will be illuminated. On Wednesday, the moonrise occurs at 8:30 p.m. with an illumination rate of 99.8 per cent. The moon will also then be at its closest point to Earth this year at 357,082 km away.
Comparatively, the new moon of April 22 will be 405,188 km away. At that time only 0.3 per cent of the moon will be lit.
As for viewing, Williams adamantly states that Cape Breton is a most ideal location.
“We’re fortunate to live in Cape Breton because we have a lot of dark places here and most of the stuff we look at in the sky is viewed to the south – so just being out of the city a little can make a huge difference.”
Whether the pink moon will be visible in Cape Breton is uncertain. Indeed, the ever-optimistic and always cheerful Saltwire Network meteorologist Cindy Day couldn’t even promise clear skies during the optimal viewing times.
But the popular weatherperson did offer up the following statement courtesy of her oft-quoted grandmother:
“According to Grandma, the moon and the weather may change together, but a change in the moon won’t change the weather.”