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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 7 July, 2020
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The last supermoon of the year will be visible in Irish skies tonight

A cloudy forecast could mean many of us miss out on the chance to see it, however.

A supermoon rising above the Rock of Dunamase in Laois last month.
A supermoon rising above the Rock of Dunamase in Laois last month.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

THE LAST SUPERMOON of the year will – weather permitting – be visible in Irish skies tonight.

However, with cloudy weather forecast the chances of many of us seeing May’s “flower moon” – signifying the flowers that bloom this month – may be slim.

Astronomy Ireland’s David Moore, however, is feeling hopeful. He told TheJournal.ie: “When you have a country watching, the chances are someone will have a clear sky. It’ll be the brightest thing in the sky”. 

The moon goes around the Earth in a slightly “squashed circle” called an ellipse, according to Astronomy Ireland. This means at times it can be a little closer than average.

At times like this the moon – of supermoon – can look up to 30% brighter.

There have been three other supermoons so far this year, in February, March and April. 

This supermoon is expected to be visible early in the morning as well as after sunset as the moon rises in the south-east.

moonAImay05 Another shot of last month's supermoon. Source: David Moore

When will be the best time to look up?

Moore said: “From about 9.15pm. It’ll rise from the east and will be at its biggest for probably about an hour when it’s lowest on the horizon.”

He added that when it’s at its lowest, it allows the chance for the most creative photo opportunities such as pretending you’re holding the moon up. 

Luckily, it will also be visible this Friday night with around 10.44pm the best time to catch it. 

It’ll be about 6% larger than a typical full moon and around 14% bigger than a micromoon, which is when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth.

ba756849-d9dd-4cd1-9d67-642dcf753ff1 Source: PA Images

Greg Brown, an astronomer at the UK’s Royal Observatory, told the PA news agency: “Technically the exact moment of full moon is 11.45am, however the moon will not be visible in the sky in the UK [or Ireland] at that time.

Because of how the dynamics of orbits work, these usually occur in runs of two or three with longer gaps of several months between each set of supermoons.

The weather forecast from Met Éireann for this evening is for a mostly dry but cloudy evening. However, some clear spells in the east could give stargazers a chance to get a look at the last supermoon of the year. 

The next supermoon will be visible in March 2021 but that doesn’t mean there’ll be nothing to gaze at in the coming months.

Moore said: “It’s an incredible time, with no less than two naked-eye comets coming. One at the end of this month and the month after.”

At a time when many of us are at home, Moore said interest in Astronomy Ireland is higher than ever.

“People are turning to hobbies during the lockdown,” he added. “We’re getting as many joining in a day as would usually in a month.”

With reporting from PA

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Sean Murray

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