Look Up! April’s Full Pink Moon Is Finally Here

Blue Moons aren't really blue, and the Pink Moon isn't really pink, but at least the full Moon is really full.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 5 : Full Pink Moon sets over San Francisco City as seen from Oakland hills...
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April’s full Moon isn’t actually pink, but it ushers in a burst of spring color here on the ground.

The 2024 Pink Moon rises on the evening of Tuesday, April 23. Despite the name, the Moon will be its usual bright white mottled with gray; just like a blue Moon, the Pink Moon is a little bit of lunar false advertising.

As The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains, the full Pink Moon rises around the same time in late April that wide mats of tiny, bright pink wildflowers, called moss phlox or creeping phlox, bloom across the eastern United States. So while the Moon itself won’t be pink, patches of the ground around you might be.

The full Pink Moon sets over San Francisco in April 2023.

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However, if you catch the Pink Moon early enough in the evening, when it’s still low on the horizon, it might look yellow or orange. That’s because, at this angle, the moonlight (which is just sunlight reflecting off the Moon’s surface) has to pass through a thicker slice of Earth’s atmosphere to reach the ground. Along the way, the atmosphere absorbs most of the shorter wavelengths of light, leaving orange and red hues. As the Moon rises higher in the sky, it fades back to familiar white.

As April’s full Moon approaches, the Moon has been fuller and brighter in the night sky for several days — just in time for its light to make the Lyrid meteor shower hard to see. The Lyrids, a meteor shower that happens every year as Earth crosses the trail of debris left by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, peaked on Sunday night, April 21, but with the sky lit by bright moonlight, they would have been tough to spot.

The Lyrids will remain fairly active over the next few days, so it could still be worth trying to catch a glimpse, despite the Moon being in its “blocking views of other celestial objects” era this month. Look in the early predawn hours, and find the darkest place with the widest view of the sky that you possibly can.

Moss phlox is native to eastern North America, but it’s also popular in Japan, where huge gardens like this one display it in all its bright pink cheer.

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If pink isn’t your favorite color, or if creeping phlox doesn’t bloom where you live, you might like another name for April’s full Moon: The indigenous Lakota people call it the Moon When the Ducks Come Back, while the Dakota call it the Moon When the Geese Lay Eggs. The Algonquin call it the Breaking Ice Moon, because the ice on the surface of northern lakes and streams begins to thaw and crack. And the Cree keep it short and simple: Frog Moon.

The next full Moon in 2024 will be the Flower Moon, rising on May 23.

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