Year’s brightest supermoon rises over world battered by pandemic
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Year’s brightest supermoon rises over world battered by pandemic

NASA encourages public to look skyward for a respite from coronavirus outbreak as full moon moves closer to earth than usual

  • A supermoon is seen over Belvoir castle in Leicestershire, England, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)
    A supermoon is seen over Belvoir castle in Leicestershire, England, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)
  • The supermoon rises behind an illuminated cross from a Christian Orthodox church in Moscow, Russia, April 7, 2020. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
    The supermoon rises behind an illuminated cross from a Christian Orthodox church in Moscow, Russia, April 7, 2020. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
  • Thin clouds cover the supermoon to the earth in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 7, 2020. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP)
    Thin clouds cover the supermoon to the earth in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 7, 2020. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP)
  • A couple hold hands as they walk to watch the supermoon come up in Hanover, western Germany, April 7, 2020. (Julian Stratenschulte/dpa/AFP)
    A couple hold hands as they walk to watch the supermoon come up in Hanover, western Germany, April 7, 2020. (Julian Stratenschulte/dpa/AFP)
  • The supermoon seen at a closed factory in Dortmund, western Germany, April 7, 2020. (Ina Fassbender/AFP)
    The supermoon seen at a closed factory in Dortmund, western Germany, April 7, 2020. (Ina Fassbender/AFP)

The largest and brightest supermoon of the year loomed in the night sky on Tuesday over quiet roads and shuttered cities as the coronavirus pandemic compelled much of humanity to take shelter to stymie its spread.

The moon will be closer to earth than usual, and it will be a full moon.

Scientists call this cosmic combo a supermoon. The moon will be 221,855 miles (357,042 kilometers) away at its fullest Tuesday night, making it appear larger and more brilliant.

NASA is encouraging everyone to look skyward, whether it’s outside or through a living room window.

Scientist Noah Petro of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland said the important thing is to stay safe while moon-gazing during the pandemic.

“If you can’t get out safely… then fine,” Petro said. “Go out next month or whenever it’s safe again. Use the full moon as an excuse to get out and start looking at the moon.”

He added: “Use this as an opportunity to not physically distance yourself, but emotionally connect with something that is physically far from us.”

There’s a string of supermoons this spring. So if you miss the upcoming lunar show, catch the next one May 7.

In mid-April, the waning moon will pass by Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, clustered in the southeastern sky before dawn.

All this comes after a brilliant Venus passed a few days ago in front of the Pleiades, the so-called Seven Sisters star cluster.

“We’ve really been fortunate to have some good astronomy — backyard astronomy or living room astronomy,” Petro said.

The novel coronavirus has killed over 81,000 people worldwide, and infected over 1.4 million, as of Tuesday night, according to Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

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