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Binoculars help score best view of ‘Pink Moon’

Apr 3, 2020
A man poses by a telescope
A man poses by a telescope

KOKOMO, Ind. – You don’t have to leave your home to see the biggest supermoon of the year next week — just grab your binoculars and head outside.

Known as the pink moon, it will be visible after sunset on Tuesday, April 7, and reach peak illumination around 10:35 p.m. For the best view, find an open area to watch as it rises above the eastern horizon.

Patrick Motl, Indiana University Kokomo associate professor of physics, said while the supermoon will be a wonder to see with the naked eye, he recommends using binoculars or a telescope to really grasp the details that can be seen.

“The line separating night and day on the moon is called the terminator, and as it works its way across the moon over the course of the month you will see different features pop out in three-dimensional detail,” he said. “My advice would be to give the pink moon a try with any sort of telescope, finder scope or binoculars.”

Don’t be disappointed that the moon isn’t a pink pastel — each full moon has a name and April’s is the “pink” moon, for the phlox flowers that bloom in early spring. Many names of the full moons were adopted from the Algonquin Native American language.

A supermoon is a full moon that appears during a time when the moon is the closest to the earth, making the moon appear to be brighter and larger.

The scientific term for a supermoon is perigee syzygy. Perigee refers to the closeness of the moon to the earth, and syzygy is the term for the alignment of the earth, moon and sun which causes the phenomenon of the full moon.

Since the moon’s orbit is almost completely circular, having a full moon at perigee will bring it 7 percent closer to our planet, making it about 15 percent brighter than average.

Story written by Braden Dunlap. Braden is an intern in the Office of Media and Marketing.

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