April’s full moon may be called the Pink Moon, but it will appear bright white when it’s high in the night sky — just like every other month’s full moon.
So why is it called a Pink Moon? Well, the Pink Moon gets its name because it coincides with the bloom of pink wildflowers that are among the earliest widespread flowers in North America to open up each year. The wildflowers, commonly called creeping phlox or moss phlox, are also known as moss pink or pink phlox, according to Time and Date.
April’s full moon will occur on Saturday, April 16, at 2:55 p.m. Eastern, Time and Date notes.
An Afternoon Full Moon?
Yes, that’s right. Phases of the moon are determined by its position on its orbit around Earth. A full moon occurs when the sun, Earth, and moon are in alignment, with the moon on the opposite side of Earth from the sun. The moon will be full precisely at 2:55 p.m. Eastern on April 16. While the moon may be difficult to see at that time in North America, for instance, that will be 4:55 a.m. in Tokyo.
The Paschal Full Moon (And What It Has To Do With Easter)
This month the full moon has another name as well: the Paschal Full Moon.
Easter is what’s called a “movable feast” because its date differs each year. Here’s why: Easter is observed on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first full moon that occurs either on or after the spring equinox.
This year, the spring equinox occurred on Sunday, March 20. The first full moon to occur after the equinox is April’s Pink Moon, on Saturday, April 16. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, this makes April’s full moon the Paschal Full Moon, which means Easter will be observed on the next Sunday — April 17.
By the way, Paschal comes from “Pascha,” the Greek word for passover, the Old Farmer’s Almanac explains.
Viewing The Pink Moon
As mentioned above, a full moon occurs when the moon is opposite the sun in its orbit around Earth. When this happens, the side of the moon visible from Earth is entirely illuminated — appearing “full.”
Astronomically speaking, the moon will only be full at 2:55 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, April 16. However, the moon will appear full to the unaided eye for three days, from Friday morning through Monday. In other words, the moon will appear full all weekend, according to NASA.
If you enjoy stargazing, you’ll want to make plans to look at the full moon just before dawn, while the sky is still dark.
The moon will appear full, plus it will be joined by four planets lined up in a row at around 5:30 a.m. Eastern, according to NASA. Saturn will be just above the southeastern horizon, followed by Mars, Venus, and Jupiter.
The Pink Moon/Paschal Full Moon will be above the west-southwestern horizon. If you’re outside then and the skies are clear, Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, will be visible to the moon’s lower left. The bright star appearing closest above the moon will be Vega, the fifth brightest star in the night sky, NASA explains.
The Next Full Moon
May’s full moon is called the Flower Moon, appropriately enough, because it coincides with when most flowers are blooming in the northern hemisphere. May’s full moon will occur on May 16, at 12:14 a.m. Eastern.
It won’t, however, be possible to view that full moon. Moments before the moon becomes full, there will be a total lunar eclipse — at 12:11 a.m. Eastern.