Pink moon: April’s full moon glows brightly over Rome
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April’s Full Moon is traditionally known as the Pink Moon, thanks to Native American time-keeping traditions. But you may also recognise it as the Fish Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon or Egg Moon. More importantly, however, this Full Moon will arrive near its closest orbit of Earth and that means we are about to witness a beautiful Supermoon.
What is a Supermoon?
As the Moon races around the globe, its elliptical orbit brings it closer or farther from us every night.
If a Full Moon appears near or at lunar perigee – lowest orbit – astronomers refer to this spectacle as the Supermoon.
The opposite is true when the Full Moon is at apogee – highest orbit – and we get to witness a smaller Micromoon.
Supermoons can appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than a Micromoon.
NASA’s lunar expert Gordon Johnston explained: “This Full Moon is the first of two Supermoons for 2021.
“The term ‘Supermoon’ was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and refers to either a New or Full Moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90 percent of perigee, its closest approach to Earth.
“Since we can’t see a New Moon (except when it passes in front of the Sun), what has caught the public’s attention in recent decades are Full Supermoons, as these are the biggest and brightest Full Moons for the year.”
Another Supermoon will appear this year on May 26, appearing about 0.04 percent or about 98 miles (157km) closer to Earth.
Pink moon: April’s full moon illuminates the sky
What time will the Pink Supermoon rise over the UK?
The Pink Moon will rise early on Tuesday morning, so you will have to get up in the wee hours to see it.
Astronomers estimate the Moon will reach full illumination by 4.31am BST.
But if the prospect of getting up so early seems daunting, the good news is the Moon will appear full to the naked eye tonight and tomorrow evening.
Mr Johnston said: “The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Sunday night through Wednesday morning.”
In strictly astronomical terms, a Full Moon only lasts a brief moment when the Moon and Sun are lined up.
When viewed from London, the Moon will set in the west-southwest tomorrow by 6.04am BST.
The Moon will then reappear in the east-southeast by 8.59pm BST.
Viewed from Glasgow, the Moon will set by 5.57am and reappear by 7.54pm BST.
Astronomy enthusiasts in Belfast, meanwhile, will see the Full Moon set by 6.20am and rise again by 9.35pm BST.
What is the meaning behind the Pink Moon’s name?
Many of the Moon’s unusual names are said to derive from the time-keeping traditions of Native American tribes.
After being adopted by colonial Europeans, the names were popularised in the 20th century by publications like the Maine Farmer’s Almanac.
The names are believed to reflect seasonal changes in the landscape, such as the appearance of certain flowers or the ripening of wild fruit.
Mr Johnston said: “According to this almanac, as the Full Moon in April, this is the Pink Moon, named after the herb moss pink, also known as creeping phlox, moss phlox, or mountain phlox.
“The plant is native to the eastern United States and is one of the earliest widespread flowers of spring.”
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