Pink supermoon lights up Australian sky

·1-min read

A pink supermoon lit up the sky above Australia on Tuesday night, the first of two spectacular moons in a month.

The moon, which began rising around 5:30pm, appeared 17 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than usual.

Onlookers were able to watch the moon climb over Sydney Harbour, lighting up the sky behind the famous Opera House.

Although stunning, the moon was not actually pink.

Astronomer Sara Webb told AAP the phenomenon's name is a little bit of "false advertising", and relates to the timing of the supermoon.

The phenomenon, which usually takes place every year around April, is caused when a full moon occurs while it is on its closest approach to earth.

"Hundreds of years ago the Americans used to call it the pink supermoon because a beautiful wildflower would bloom around the same time, so they would associate that with big, bright full moon," Ms Webb said.

"It's one of those moons that when you're driving along or you're outside that you really like 'woah'."

This year Australians will be treated to two supermoons, with another due on May 26.

"We have one full moon as it is entering its closest point and one full moon as it is exiting its closest point ... so it is just a lucky coincidence," she said.

The second will be arguably better than the first, Ms Webb said, as it is a blood supermoon.

"This one is not false advertising in the name. It actually is bright red and it's because it's going to happen during a partial lunar eclipse."