Nighttime skywatchers and astronomers can expect a pink supermoon near the end of the month.
This month’s full moon earned this unusual distinction for a couple of reasons, and the name is a little misleading.
For starters, April’s full moon won’t actually 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 wildflower Phlox subulata, or moss pink.
The April full moon also goes by lesser-known names like “Egg Moon” and “Sprouting grass Moon,” both of which relate to the spring season.
However, “Pink Moon” is the most widespread and popular name in the Northern Hemisphere.
As for April’s supermoon status, this month’s full moon coincides with perigee — the closest the moon comes to the Earth.
The moon takes 27.3 days to travel around the Earth, and this orbit isn’t a uniform circle. It’s more of an elliptical shape, which results in the moon’s varying distances at any given point in time.
When a full moon is within 90% or greater of its average closest approach to Earth, it’s considered a supermoon. There are only two supermoons in 2021: the pink supermoon in April and the flower supermoon in May.
The pink supermoon will be a mere 222,212 miles away from the Earth while May’s flower supermoon will be slightly closer at 222,117 miles away.
A supermoon appears about 7% larger and roughly 15% brighter than the average full moon, but it’s difficult to see the difference between the two.
Without the ability to compare a typical full moon and a supermoon side by side, the average person won’t notice a difference.
Regardless of the moon’s hue and whether or not you’ll be able to perceive a difference in size or brightness, the pink supermoon is still expected to be a treat for anyone planning on looking up.
The full moon will reach its peak brightness on Monday, April 26 at 11:31 p.m.
If clouds or some other obstruction interferes with your viewing on Monday night, the moon will appear full for 24 hours before and after. This means Sunday night through Tuesday night should give everyone a large window of opportunity to spot the pink supermoon.
And if you miss it, May’s supermoon arrives exactly one month later on the morning of May 26.