Huge Pink Supermoon To Light Up Sky Next Week
We are in for a much-needed beautiful sight next week, with the arrival of an enormous pink supermoon.
Emerging on April 7, this will be the very first full moon of the spring season, as well as being the largest and brightest of the year.
The size and brightness is said to be down to the moon’s uneven orbit, which is more elliptical or oval in shape than circular. Each orbit will last 27.3 days and, within this time, there will be a perigee (the point of closest approach) and an apogee (the point at which it is furthest away).
Tania de Sales Marques, an astronomer from the Royal Observatory, told Newsweek:
What is commonly called a supermoon happens when the moon comes closest to us, at perigee, and is either at a full moon or new moon phase. So a full moon is also a supermoon when the full phase coincides with perigee.
A full moon coinciding with perigee is an annual event, but since a supermoon is not so strictly defined, the threshold for what’s considered a supermoon may vary to also include full moons that come close to perigee. This more relaxed definition can give us more than one supermoon per year.
De Sales Marques added:
A full moon at perigee is just 7% larger than a regular full moon, so the difference in size is not discernible, however it does appear slightly brighter than usual.
According to Royal Museums Greenwich, supermoons can appear up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than full moons at the apogee. However, these moons are only marginally bigger than a normal full moon, meaning the differences may not be immediately obvious to most observers.
As reported by the Farmer’s Almanac, the pink moon is named as such because it coincides with the first seasonal bloom of phlox subulata, a wildflower found in eastern North America, not because the moon appears pink.
This moon is also sometimes referred to as a Paschal full moon, which originates from the Greek word for ‘passover’. It is named as such because it is the very first full moon to occur after the Spring Equinox, on March 20.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this moon is traditionally heralded as the beginning of Spring:
Native peoples once observed the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Time was not recorded by using the months of the Julian or Gregorian calendar.
April’s full Moon is called the Full Pink Moon, heralding the appearance of the ‘moss pink’ or wild ground phlox — one of the early spring flowers.
Other names include the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon.
The pink supermoon will become visible after sunset, reaching peak illumination by 10.35pm, EDT. It will appear to be full to the naked eye for a couple of days.
De Sales Marques said:
The best thing to do is to wait until after the sun has set and the sky is dark, find an unobstructed view of the sky, and weather permitting you should get to see a slightly brighter than usual full moon.
And if you’re thinking of taking a picture to mark the occasion, just be aware that you’ll need proper equipment, such as a camera with a long telephoto lens, as the moon captured on a phone will look more like a blob.
Eagle-eyed skywatchers may also be able to see Venus and the Pleiads star cluster, as well as a waxing crescent moon over the course of this coming weekend.
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The Old Farmer's Almanac