Holi 2020 will be witness to the second-closest supermoon of the year

Holi 2020 will be witness to the second-closest supermoon of the year
Representative image - photograph is a composite of 15 images of the Moon taken through three color filters by Galileo's solid-state imaging system during the spacecraft's passage through the Earth-Moon system on December 8, 1992NASA

  • This year’s Holi will kick off with the second-closest supermoon of the year gracing the skies tonight, March 9.
  • Holi’s phalgun purmina is always a full moon, but a supermoon is a rare occurrence.
  • Tonight’s supermoon is also the first of three consecutive supermoons set to appear in 2020.
This year’s Holi may be bogged down amid fears of Coronavirus but the night sky is going to be just a little bit brighter. The second-closest supermoon of the year is set to rise tonight, March 9, kicking off the festival of colours in India.

Every year, Holi comes on a different date because it’s dictated by the Hindu lunar calendar and must coincide with the final full moon of the year — the phalgun purnima. However, every March full moon isn’t a supermoon.

Holi 2020 will be witness to the second-closest supermoon of the year
A supermoon is 30% brighter and 14% larger than the conventional full moonNASA

Supermoons only occur when a full moon coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to the planet. In 2020, the March 9 full moon will be the second-closest of the year. It’s also the first of the three consecutive supermoons set to appear in 2020.

Date of supermoonDistance from Earth
March 9 2020357,404 km
April 8 2020357,035 km
May 7 2020361,184 km
Source: TimeandDate.com

According to historians, Holi — then referred to as Holika — was a religious ritual where married women gather around a bonfire to pray to the Moon god Raka for the good health of their families.


A brighter Holi
Even though the difference is difficult to perceive with the naked eye, supermoons are a little brighter and closer than a conventional full moon.

The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is elliptical — not a perfect circle. This means that at certain points, the Moon is closer to the planet than at other points of its orbit. On average, the Moon is around 382,900 kilometres from Earth. However, at its closest, the perigee, it’s 21,000 kilometres closer.

The Moon’s closest approach, within 90% of the perigee, combined with a full moon results in a supermoon. But, there are only a few supermoons in a year if at all. The closest supermoon in recorded history occurred in November 2016. However, an even closer supermoon is set to rise in the 2030s.

With a supermoon coming in for the holi purnima, the skies are going to be 30% brighter with the Moon appearing 14% larger.

See also:
Lunar eclipse on January 10 won't be a Super Moon — Here's why

Tonight's 'super snow moon' will be the biggest and brightest full moon of 2019. Here's why.

There will be four lunar eclipses in 2020 - starting this week