Monday night’s full moon is 2021’s first “supermoon,” a term that migrated from astrology to astronomy and is an excellent way to describe the points, twice each year, when the moon is full and at perigree, meaning it’s closest to Earth and terrifyingly large.
While scientists have pushed back against claims that supermoons occasion natural disasters—”The effects on Earth from a supermoon are minor,” NASA scientist James Garvin said in 2011—those of us who’ve lived through 2020 and the early days of 2021 know that it’s impossible to be too cautious. One 2020 supermoon took place on May 7, just as Americans leapt from panic-buying toilet paper to panic-buying Pelotons. The moon turned red during a supermoon in January 2019 that coincided with a lunar eclipse—and a Cardi B/Tomi Lahren Twitter fight.
What terrible things will happen as the moon turns pink tonight and lords its malevolent rosiness overhead? You can go outside and view it if you want; I’ll be inside, huddling under a blanket and listening to Nick Drake and praying the angry satellite will leave us unscathed. I’ll try not to think about the next supermoon next month: a “blood moon” on May 26 that will coincide with a lunar eclipse in parts of the world. Good luck with that one!