The so-called “Pink Moon” is here this week and, surprisingly, it will not look pink by any means. The first full moon observable in the month of April will be at its fullest phase (when the Moon is in the exact opposite place of the Earth as the sun) around 11 PM ET this Tuesday, as it already showed itself to curious stargazers in early Tuesday, at around 2 AM.
The Pink Moon has brought much confusion since people that have seen it have claimed through social networks that the moon is not pink, nor appears to be of any similar color. And these claims are, indeed, true. The Pink Moon is not dubbed that way because of its color but actually for a flower.
There is a particular type of flowers called wild ground phlox that only bloom in early spring. These flowers are spread through the United States and Canada, and they are, of course, pink. Along with this fact, the first moon of April (the Pink one), is also the first full moon that shows itself in all the Northern Hemisphere. People will be able to watch it even until April 12, the specialized site Space.com reported this Tuesday.
The Pink Moon also has other names, and like many other nicks for the moons, most of them are the product of Native-American heritage. Other names include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Full Fish Moon. Other cultures like the Indian, Christian, and Arabic also celebrate the appearance of the first full April moon with different names.
Also, as this moon is the first full moon during the spring is also called the Paschal Full Moon, and five days later it would be Easter Sunday.
Why does the moon have phases?
For a full moon to appear, (and the werewolves to come out), the moon has to be in the exact opposite place of the Earth in relation to the position of the sun. This phenomenon can happen every 30 days on average.
The exactitude of that timing is affected by the position the moon could have regarding its orbit around the Earth. For this reason, the moon does not always show itself the same for casual viewers across the world. The explanation for the distinct phases of the Moon has to do with perspective, that is to say, how persons at different places on Earth are able to observe our natural satellite moving around it.
For example, every time the moon is 90 degrees to the right or the left of the line that connects both the Earth and the sun, the moon shows itself half-illuminated. Unpractically, this phase is called quarter moon but is because it is exactly at the quarter of its orbit around the Earth.
There is something interesting every time the Moon is full, and it’s that people are able to see some details that are often not watchable. For example, those huge dark hole-shaped shadows are the product of several impacts that have damaged the crust of the Moon.
If a person has a small telescope, there is possible to observe even more details, but due to the fact that during a full moon there is so much bright, a filter is needed in order to see clearly. Actually, even when using large telescopes, it’s very difficult to successfully watch the moon at its fullest since they are not many spaces where the light does not trouble the vision.
The moon is quite fast, ask Jupiter
The velocity of the moon plays an important role when it comes to understanding why it has phases, and therefore, why there is a Pink Moon. The moon is actually very fast when comparing with background stars, for example. Every hour, the moon moves about 1/2 degree, which is to say one moon diameter. That means that on an average night, the moon can move up to 6 degrees, which can change its position drastically from one constellation to another.
On April 9, the moon rose at the Virgo constellation, which is located about 12 degrees away from Jupiter. One day later, the moon and Jupiter were only 7 degrees apart and on that same night, the full moon was just 2 degrees aside of Jupiter.
This amazing approach is not observable in the U.S., but Europeans are lucky enough to catch the phenomenon, explained Jesse Emspak from Space.com.
“The closest approach won’t be visible to people in the U.S., but those in Europe and points east should be able to see it. U.S.-based skywatchers will have to be satisfied with seeing Jupiter rise just a few minutes before the center of the moon gets above the horizon, though over the course of the night the moon will pass near Spica and form a small, bright triangle with Jupiter,” wrote Emspak.