April’s Pink Moon is the first full moon of spring
It’s officially springtime, and the first full moon of the season will arrive during the first full week of April.
Despite its colorful name, however, the moon will not be pink. It’ll be the same color as every other full moon throughout the year, but the pink name does have everything to do with the time of year.
This springtime full moon is called the pink moon because it coincides with the early spring blooms of the perennial wildflower Phlox subulata, or moss pink — also known as creeping phlox. This plant is native to the eastern U.S., and it’s one of the earliest widespread flowers of spring.
The April full moon also goes by lesser-known names like Egg Moon and Sprouting Grass Moon. Both of these names relate to the spring season because birds begin to lay their eggs this time of year, and the grass begins to sprout up and turn green again.
The Pink Moon of 2023
April’s full moon has plenty of nicknames, but “Pink Moon” is the most widespread and popular name in the Northern Hemisphere.
Many of these names are said to have originated from Native American cultures, and other cultures throughout history have come up with other names for the monthly full moons.
The Pink Full Moon officially occurs early in the morning on Thursday, April 6, at 12:34 a.m. EST, but for anyone not wanting to stay up that late, the moon will appear full from Tuesday night through Thursday night.
This is also the first full moon of spring, so it’s also called the Paschal Full Moon, which is significant to anyone who celebrates Easter. “Paschal” is the Greek word for Passover.
The annual date for Easter is determined based on the date of this full moon — the holiday is celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.
The full moon has significance in other religions as well. For Hindus, the date corresponds with the celebration of the birth of Lord Hanuman called Hanuman Jayanti. For Buddhists, this moon commemorates the visit Buddha made to Sri Lanka to stop a war and is called Bak Poya. April’s full moon falls in the third month of the Chinese calendar and arrives near the middle of Ramadan, the holy month in which the Quran was revealed, on the Islamic calendar.
The full moon occurs roughly every 29.5 days, which typically translates to one full moon per month.
The different phases of the moon occur because of the moon’s rotation around the Earth. As the moon rotates, we only see the part of the moon reflecting the sunlight.
Each of the major moon phases — new moon, first quarter (also called a half moon), full moon and last quarter — are each about 7.4 days apart. The previous new moon arrived on March 21 and the first quarter occurred March 28. The last quarter begins on April 13.
Besides the blooming flowers and a Pink Moon in 2023 named for them, the spring season has plenty to offer for observant moon watchers.
Spring Meteor Shower And Planets Near The Moon
After April’s full Pink Moon, skywatchers and stargazers will have a chance to see Saturn and then Mars appear extra close to the moon later in the month. And in between, the Lyrid Meteor Showers peak.
A little less than a week after the full moon, on the night of April 15, ringed planet Saturn and the moon will appear close to each other in the night sky. They’ll be at their closest close to 2 a.m. EDT on April 16.
While you’ll be able to spot them both without a telescope or binoculars, you may want to have some equipment close by if you want to get a good look at Saturn’s rings.
About a week later, on April 23, the Lyrid meteor shower is expected to show viewers about 18 meteors per hour just before dawn. Look to the northeast toward the constellation Hercules to find the meteor shower’s radiant point. As a bonus, the crescent moon won’t be very bright in the sky, so no one should have any trouble spotting the meteors as they streak across the sky.
And finally, on April 25, Mars will appear to nudge up against the moon. It should be easy to spot our closest planetary neighbor with the naked eye.
Don’t miss the Pink Full Moon in April and all the other celestial events happening throughout the month. And keep your eyes to the sky for other astronomical events throughout the year!