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Super flower blood moon: How the night sky inspires us to search for meaning… on Google

3 min read

If you looked up at the night sky last Tuesday or Wednesday, there’s a decent chance you would have noticed the full moon. You might also have thought, “Oh, the moon looks a bit bigger than usual,” and maybe even have been compelled to google why that was the case.

From the search results, you’d have discovered (thanks to the huge array of articles jostling for your attention) that this was no bog-standard full moon. No, it was a “SUPER FLOWER BLOOD MOON,” and this got the internet very excited indeed.

For something that happens every 29.5 days (meaning that sometimes it appears more than once within a calendar month, at which point everybody googles “what is a blue moon?”), it is extraordinary how much search interest a normal full moon generates.

Super moons get more interest, but even these come along fairly often – there are four in 2021 and the last one will occur on 24 June (a Super Strawberry Moon, naturally).

Last week, our view of the Earth’s satellite actually reached its fullest point in UK time around midday on Wednesday, thus appearing a similar size both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and prompting hundreds of thousands of queries.

Tiffany Ramirez, left, 23, and her friend, Edgar Navarro, 27, watch as the lunar eclipse's progresses is obscured by clouds at Santa Monica Beach in Santa Monica, Calif., Wednesday, May 26, 2021. The first total lunar eclipse in more than two years is coinciding with a supermoon for quite a cosmic show. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
The size of the May full moon attracted plenty of interest (Photo: AP)

And what a size it was, hence the “super” part. For the many who wanted to know “why is the moon so bright tonight” or “why is the moon so big”, the variation in size happens because the moon’s orbit gradually brings it nearer the Earth and then further away again from month to month.

When it approaches its closest point (the “perigee”, just to save you googling it), the full moon can appear much larger, spawning that catchy “super moon” moniker.

Logically enough, the rarer the phenomenon, the greater the interest: searches about the super moon (which occurs three or four times a year – there’s another one in June) were far outstripped by queries about “blood moon” (something far more sporadic).

This volume could also simply be a reflection of its incredibly cool and macabre name, of course. That would explain why there was far more search for “blood moon” than “lunar eclipse”, the scientific event which causes the moon to gain its reddish, bloodlike hue as its orbit passes through the Earth’s shadow.

Unfortunately, much of this interest in the UK was in vain. Despite Britons eagerly googling “what time to see the blood moon in the UK,” its midday peak meant that it was a spectacle reserved for the other side of the world.

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‘Flower moon’: Why full moon name meanings entered pop culture, even though there’s zero science behind them

Still, we got our fix by reading web articles showing “Jaw-dropping photos of the total lunar eclipse from around the world”. (From Australia, there was also an endearing one titled “If you zoom in it’s not too bad”, showing people’s “underwhelming super blood moon pictures”.)

The internet’s fixation with the “blood moon” was ignited in 2014, when a series of four lunar eclipses were declared as a foreshadowing of the apocalypse by a pair of US Christian preachers, based on an creative interpretation of the bible.

No, the world did not end, but the Blood Moon Prophecy was seized upon by news websites, which helped to drive interest in more whimsical events such as “worm moon”, “wolf moon” and indeed “flower moon”. These labels – hazily credited to Indigenous Americans – merely relate to which month a full moon occurs in, yet they spur thousands of queries each time.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which is apparently the leading authority on such pressing scientific matters, the May full moon is known as the flower moon because… flowers tend to grow in May. So, there you go.


All content in this article is for informational purposes only and in no way serves as investment advice. Investing in cryptocurrencies, commodities and stocks is very risky and can lead to capital losses.

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