Supermoon to illuminate Taiwan Lantern Festival

Supermoon to light up night sky during Taiwan Lantern Festival for first time in over 100 years

(Image from Taipei Astronomical Museum)

(Image from Taipei Astronomical Museum)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A supermoon will light up the night sky during the Taiwan Lantern Fesitval (元宵節) for the first time in over 100 years on Feb. 19, said the Taipei Astronomical Museum yesterday (Feb. 14).

This year's Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first month in the lunar calendar, which corresponds to Feb. 19 on the Western Gregorian calendar. The Taipei Astronomical Museum said yesterday that the date will coincide with a supermoon for the first time since 1900, and the next time the phenomenon will take place will be 2081.

A supermoon is new or full moon that closely coincides with perigee, which is the moon's closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit. There are three supermoons in 2019, including Jan. 21, Feb. 19 and March 21, with Feb. 19 being the closest and largest this year.

Supermoon to illuminate Taiwan Lantern Festival
Smallest full moon on Sept. 14, 2019 (left), supermoon on Feb. 19, 2019 (right). (Taipei Astronomical Museum image)

Lee Chin (李瑾), an assistant researcher at the museum, told CNA yesterday that on Feb. 19, the moon will rise at 5:29 p.m. and reach its peak at 11:54 p.m. Lee said stargazers can easily see the big full moon with the naked eye and do not need special equipment.

Lee told the news agency that the moon orbits the earth in an elliptical orbit, which causes it to alternate significantly in distance from the earth at different stages. In order for a supermoon to occur during the Lantern Festival, it must be a full moon that is closest to the earth on that night, and "a situation in which these two collide together is extremely small."

In fact, Lee said that the last time a supermoon occurred during the Lantern Festival was in 1900, and the next time this will take place will not be until 2081.

Updated : 2021-03-08 21:43 GMT+08:00