Lantern Festival & Supermoon tomorrow night!

Lantern Festival and Supermoon Tomorrow Night

Tomorrow (24th)

It’s the Lantern Festival, also known as the Yuanxiao Festival 🌕, a time to appreciate the full moon of the year 📷.

According to astronomy experts, this Yuanxiao full moon is not only “the fifteenth moon is round on the fifteenth,” but it also happens to be the smallest full moon.

🤔 What is the smallest full moon?

How rare is it for it to coincide with the Lantern Festival?

Meeting the smallest full moon on the Lantern Festival will only happen twice in this century. This year, at 8:30 p.m. on Yuanxiao night, the moon will be at its fullest, making it the “tiniest” full moon in 2024.

Lantern Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, but a full moon may occur on the fifteenth, sixteenth, or seventeenth day. Interestingly, the probability of a “sixteenth full” moon is slightly higher than a “fifteenth full” moon. For instance, in 2023, the “smallest full moon” occurred in the early hours of the sixteenth day of the lunar month.

△ “Smallest full moon” captured in February 2023

In fact, both the “smallest full moon” and the “largest full moon” are not random events. What’s rare is the occurrence of the “smallest full moon” on the Lantern Festival, and such a “coincidence” will only happen twice in the 21st century. The last time was on February 19, 1962, and the next occurrence will be on February 28, 2086.

How is the smallest full moon formed?

The moon itself does not emit light; it is only visible to people because it reflects sunlight. As the moon revolves around the Earth, the position of the moon in relation to the sun as seen from Earth keeps changing. Hence, the moon’s appearance varies in phases, with the Earth-facing side fully lit by the sun resulting in a full moon.

If, during a full moon, the moon happens to be near the apogee, the full moon will appear slightly smaller. Thus, a full moon at the apogee is known as the “smallest full moon”.

△ The “smallest full moon” in January 17, 2022

How many types of “appearances” does a full moon have?

In 2024, there will be a total of 12 full moons. These include supermoons, blood moons, and blue moons.

🌕 Supermoon refers to when the moon is at its perigee during a full moon, visually appearing “larger and rounder.” Compared to when it is at apogee, the moon’s apparent diameter increases by about 14%, and its area by about 30%. If both the large and small moons are visible at the same time, the difference is evident at a glance.

△ Something like this: (smallest full moon) ←o_O→ (supermoon)

🌕 Blood Moon occurs during a total lunar eclipse when the moon enters the Earth’s shadow, preventing sunlight from reaching it. However, other light rays refracted and scattered through the Earth’s atmosphere illuminate the moon with a red hue.

△ Total lunar eclipse on November 8, 2022

🌕 Blue Moon refers to the second full moon in a calendar month. The second full moon is called a “blue moon,” with no actual change in the moon’s appearance.

△ The “supermoon” meets the “blue moon” on August 31, 2023


Lantern Festival + Smallest Full Moon

Don’t forget to look up

Witness this rare “encounter”

Source: CCTV News WeChat Official Account

Editor: Weiliang

Reviewer 1: Siqi Ge

Reviewer 2: Ziming Li

Reviewer 3: Minghui Wu

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