The spectacular Pink Supermoon will grace the sky in late April. In today’s article, we’ll tell you about the first Supermoon of this year, give you some tips on its observation, and explain why it is called the Full Pink Moon.
To learn more curious facts about Supermoons and Micromoons, take a look at our infographic.
What is a Supermoon?
As we’ve already mentioned in one of our recent articles, there is no official astronomical definition of a Supermoon. In 1979, an American astrologer Richard Nolle defined a Supermoon as “a New or Full Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit”. In other words, in 2021, a Full or New Moon coming to within 361,766 kilometers (224,791 miles) or less of the Earth (as measured from the centers of these celestial bodies) can be considered a Supermoon. However, this value varies from year to year and depends on the Moon’s closest and farthest points from the Earth for the year (or the year’s closest perigee and farthest apogee, respectively). According to this definition, the March Full Moon wasn’t a Supermoon, though it was one of the closest Full Moons to the Earth of this year.
The first Supermoon of 2021
Traditionally called the Pink Moon, the April Full Moon perfectly fits the definition of a Supermoon given by Richard Nolle. It presents the first of two Supermoons of 2021. When is the next Supermoon? Sky gazers around the world will see it on May 26. However, some sources consider the June Full Moon a Supermoon as well, even though Richard Nolle didn’t include it in his 21st Century Supermoon list. Although Supermoons are said to be the brightest and largest Full Moons of the year, on average, a usual Full Moon is only about 7% smaller and 15% fainter than a Supermoon.
The Pink Moon will be the second-closest Full Moon of the year, lying at a distance of 357,615 kilometers (222,211 miles) from our planet. Sometimes a Supermoon is called a perigean Full Moon as our natural satellite reaches its full phase and lunar perigee almost simultaneously. April and May are the only two months in 2021 when the Full Moon and perigee take place less than 24 hours apart.
In contrast, the smallest and most distant Full Moon of 2021 — the so-called Micromoon — will occur on December 19. This day, our natural satellite will be at a distance of 405,932 kilometers (252,235 miles) from the Earth. A Full Micromoon occurs when the Moon reaches its full phase around apogee.
What is the best time to see the Supermoon in late April?
This month, the Moon turns full on April 26 at 11:31 p.m. EDT (or on April 27 at 3:31 GMT), shining in front of the constellation Libra. In terms of astronomy, the Moon reaches its full phase at a particular moment — when it lies directly opposite the Sun. However, to the eye, it can appear full for a few nights in a row. Enjoy the fully illuminated lunar disk on April 26 and 27: it will grace the sky after dusk and set around sunrise; the perfect time for observation is around midnight when the April Full Moon will reach its highest point in the sky.
The day before, on April 25, take the opportunity to view the beautiful dance of the Moon and the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, Spica. At nightfall, look eastward to see the bright astronomical duo shining over the horizon. Even the brilliant glare of the Moon won’t prevent you from spotting Spica, as it is one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Read our recent article to learn more about other prominent stars adorning the skydome.
Take a perfect shot of the Pink Full Moon with Ephemeris, an essential photo planner tool. Thanks to this great app, outdoor photographers can predict the position of the Moon and other sky objects and special moments for stunning pictures. Capture the Pink Supermoon at its brightest and share photos with us on social media!
What is a Pink Moon?
Each Full Moon has its name deriving from Native American, Colonial American, and other North American traditions and associated with the сharacteristic features of a particular season of the year. Let’s discover the Full Pink Moon meaning.
The April Full Moon is known as Pink Moon. Actually, this name has nothing to do with the color of our natural satellite: the fully illuminated lunar disk will have its usual golden hue near the horizon and turn bright white as it climbs higher in the sky. The April Pink Moon got its name from Phlox subulata, a pink wildflower native to eastern North America, which blossoms in the early spring.
Other names of the April Moon also refer to springtime: they include Sprouting Grass Moon, Breaking Ice Moon, and also Sucker Moon because it marks the time to harvest suckerfish, which return to streams and lakes of North America to spawn.
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