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April’s full moon will not shine pink tonight, despite its name, but the bright golden orb could still offer a sight to behold.
Moon observers can begin to see the lunar event starting Wednesday night, and it will peak early Thursday morning at 12:34 a.m. ET.
“The April full Moon, at first glance, will look like other full Moons,” said Dr. Noah Petro, chief of NASA’s planetary geology, geophysics and geochemistry lab, in an email. Each one, however, “presents a special opportunity to see a beautiful Moon and start looking at the Moon as it goes through its phases.
“I encourage people to dust off their binoculars or telescopes to look closely at the Moon, try to see the different colors (the light and dark regions), and recognize that those differences reflect different compositions of rock.”
Full moons are visible to those in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, as they are considered to be in the full moon phase up to 12 hours before and after their peak, according to EarthSky. The fullness of the moon won’t appear to be very different to the human eye the day before or after the crest.
For optimal viewing of the pink moon, Petro recommends finding a spot with minimal light pollution and with a clear view of the sky. Onlookers can also keep an eye out for Venus and Mars, as they will be out and fairly close to the moon in the night sky.
“When people look at the Moon, I want them to think of not just of it as a nearby neighbor in space, but of the Moon being like the eighth continent of the Earth,” said Petro via email.
Referencing the NASA Artemis lunar program, he added, “We are preparing to send astronauts back to the Moon as well as numerous robotic missions to its surface. The next several years are going to be very very exciting for lunar science!”
Pink moon in time for spring
The pink moon is a nod to the bountiful blooming flowers and trees that the spring weather brings. In particular, the pink moon gets its name from a hot pink wildflower, Phlox subulata, that grows in a thick mat of vibrant foliage, commonly referred to as creeping phlox, moss phlox or moss pink. The wildflower is native to eastern North America and often attracts butterflies that herald spring’s arrival, according to the Farmers’ Almanac.
Other names for this moon include the budding moon, flower moon and moon of the big leaves, among other names that came from Native American tribes in a nod to the flourishing foliage of the season, according to a guide compiled at Western Washington University.
This year’s April full moon is also the first full moon of spring, otherwise known as the Paschal full moon. This lunar event is of particular importance to those who celebrate Easter, as the date of the religious observance falls on the Sunday after the Paschal moon makes its appearance in the night sky.
More full moons
There are nine more moons this year to keep an eye out for, with two in August that are supermoons, meaning they will appear larger in the sky due to their closer proximity to Earth.
Here’s the list of full moons remaining in 2023, according to the Farmers’ Almanac:
• May 5: Flower moon
• June 3: Strawberry moon
• July 3: Buck moon
• August 1: Sturgeon moon
• August 30: Blue moon
• September 29: Harvest moon
• October 28: Hunter’s moon
• November 27: Beaver moon
• December 26: Cold moon
Lunar and solar eclipses
There will be a total of four eclipses to spot in 2023, with two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses.
One total solar eclipse will be visible on April 20 to those in Australia, Southeast Asia and Antarctica. During a short period of time, the moon will move between the sun and Earth, causing the sun to look like a fiery circle in the sky. The event will require proper eclipse glasses to view safely.
Shortly after, a penumbral lunar eclipse will occur on May 5, visible for those in Africa, Asia and Australia. During this eclipse, the moon will enter Earth’s shadow, causing the lunar surface to dim.
An annular solar eclipse will take place on October 14 — look up if you live in North, Central or South America. This event will occur when the moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth, making the moon appear smaller than the sun and creating a more pronounced glowing ring when passing between the sun and Earth.
On October 28, a partial lunar eclipse will be viewable by people in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, parts of North America and much of South America. Only part of the moon will pass into shadow, since the Earth and moon won’t be completely aligned.
Finally ending the meteor shower drought, the Lyrids will rain down at the end of this month and will bring the first major shower since the Quadrantids appeared in January. The Lyrids will be shortly followed by May’s celestial event of the Aquariids.
Here are the remaining meteor showers of 2023 and their peak dates:
• Lyrids: April 22-23
• Eta Aquariids: May 5-6
• Southern Delta Aquariids: July 30-31
• Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
• Perseids: August 12-13
• Orionids: October 20-21
• Southern Taurids: November 4-5
• Northern Taurids: November 11-12
• Leonids: November 17-18
• Geminids: December 13-14
• Ursids: December 21-22