Strawberry supermoon: Last of night sky spectacles this year approaches

·2-min read

The final supermoon of 2021 is due to take place this week, with almost a year to wait for the next one.

Skygazers in the UK will be looking to spot the strawberry supermoon on Thursday evening - so named because it occurs during the strawberry harvest in North America.

A supermoon is when a full moon takes place when the celestial body is at its closest point of orbit to the Earth.

On Thursday, the moon will appear bigger and brighter in the night sky and will be just 228,003 miles from our home planet.

There have been two prior supermoons in 2021 - the "pink" one in April and the "flower" in May.

These are named because they happen during the period for the blooming of the fuschia flower and then blooming of flowers in general respectively.

The next supermoon is due to take place on 14 June 2022.

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Jake Foster, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, said the best time to see the supermoon in the UK would be after sunset.

He said: "The strawberry moon will be the final supermoon of 2021, and it will reach its peak on June 24 at 19:39 BST, though in the UK the moon won't rise until about an hour after this time."

Mr Foster added: "You don't need any special equipment to observe this event and there is no particular location you need to be to see it - as this is a bright full moon, as long as the skies are clear of clouds, it will be easy to spot whether you are in a light-polluted city or a dark area of countryside."

According to the Royal Museums Greenwich, which oversees the observatory: "The moment when the moon is closest to the Earth is called a lunar perigee. When the moon is furthest away it is known as a lunar apogee.

"If the lunar perigee occurs very close to a full moon, then we see a supermoon. If a lunar apogee occurs very close to a full moon then we see a micromoon."

It adds: "During a supermoon, the moon appears up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than the furthest a full moon can be."