The first supermoon of 2021 is coming, and it’s the perfect time to look up at our ever-present celestial companion.
April’s Pink Moon will brighten up the night skies on April 26-27. Because it’s a supermoon, it means the full moon also coincides with the closest point in its orbit around Earth. But before you get too excited, the natural satellite’s color won’t actually turn pink. Here’s everything you need to know to enjoy the first supermoon of the year.
What is a supermoon?
As the Moon journeys around our planet, it varies in size, brightness, and visibility from our view.
Over the course of its trip around Earth (27 days, 7 hours, and 43 minutes), the Moon embarks on different phases: A small sliver of the Moon’s crescent gradually appears in our skies as it waxes to become a full Moon at the peak of its cycle.
After that, it begins to wane into invisibility once more, before beginning anew, 29 and a half days after the preceding new Moon.
A supermoon appears somewhat brighter and larger than a regular full Moon.
At the beginning of its cycle, the Moon is on the same side of the Earth as the Sun, with its dark side facing our planet. As a result, it is almost invisible to us.
But during the full moon, the Moon bears its full face to Earth dwellers when our planet sits right between the sun and the moon. As a result, the side of the moon facing the Earth becomes fully illuminated by the sun’s beaming light.
A supermoon occurs when a Full Moon happens to be closest to the Earth during its orbit. The proper astronomical term for it is perigean full Moon— referring to the closest point in the moon’s orbit called a perigee. The term supermoon itself comes from astrology.
A supermoon appears as much as 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than normal because they are at the closest point to us on Earth.
Why is it called a Pink Moon?
This month’s full Moon was nicknamed the Pink Moon by Native American tribes due to the blooming of flowers around this time of the year, specifically a flower known as phlox that has a distinct shade of pink.
However, the Moon will not don the same color as the flower. Instead, it will appear brighter and bigger than it normally is on a Full Moon night. You can observe the supermoon with the naked eye, and it will appear bright for a couple of nights.
What time does the Pink Moon happen?
The full Moon will peak at its brightest on the night of April 26 at 11:31 p.m. Eastern, marking one of only two supermoons this year. However, the moonrise will begin at 7:44 p.m., meaning there’s plenty of time to catch the Moon throughout the early evening. Look to the east around this time, with the moon moving west over the course of the night.
Last year saw four supermoons, with the last one being on May 7.
However, this year, we are only getting two supermoons, with the next one falling on the night of May 26. That means now is the time to catch a bright, big supermoon in action.