Lovers of the night sky, witches, and werewolves, the April full Moon is upon us. This full Moon is known as the Pink Moon, but it is not because of a change in hue. It is a reference to a pink wildflower known to bloom around this time.
The name is said to come from Native American traditions and has become popular in American folklore through the Farmers' Almanac, with other names including the sprouting grass moon, egg moon, and fish moon.
The peak of the full Moon already happened earlier today at 7:12am EDT (11:12 GMT), but you wouldn’t have seen it unless you were on the right side of the planet. But despite being past peak, it will still look spectacular. The moon will rise around 8pm local time (whether you are in the UK, on the East Coast, or the West Coast) and set tomorrow morning around 7am. The Sun will be up for about an hour before the Moon sets, so if you’re an early riser, you can look forward to that as well.
The Pink Moon is historically important for its connection to the Christian Easter holiday and the Jewish Passover. Unlike other holidays in the Christian tradition that fall on a fixed date of the Gregorian calendar, Easter follows a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar.
Easter takes place the first Sunday after the first full Moon in spring, so after the equinox on March 21. However, calculations can vary over the years, such as this year when the last full Moon was actually on the equinox, meaning that the “astronomical Easter” should have taken place on March 24 instead of this weekend.
The full Moon takes place when our natural satellite is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun and we can see the nearside of the Moon completely illuminated. In the other phases of the lunar cycle, the Moon is in a position where sunlight only reaches certain areas of the nearside face. The reason we see only one side of the Moon has to do with tidal locking. The Moon rotates on itself in the same time it takes to revolve around the Earth, so we only see one face.