Supermoon: only the biggest, brightest and closest full moon
The most spectacular times to view a supermoon is when it ascends from or approaches the horizon.
staff video, USA TODAY
- The moon will officially become full at 11:32 p.m. ET Monday night, April 26.
- Other names for this moon include the sprouting grass moon, the egg moon and the fish moon.
- A supermoon occurs when the full moon is at its closest approach to Earth in its orbit.
The final week of April kicks off with a full moon, known this month as the pink moon. Plus, it’s a “supermoon.”
The moon will officially become full at 11:32 p.m. ET Monday but will look plenty full when it rises above the eastern horizon Monday evening.
But before you get your hopes up, the moon won’t look pink, the Old Farmer’s Almanac says.
“The moon will be its usual golden color near the horizon and fade to a bright white as it glides overhead,” the almanac says.
So why is it called the pink moon?
“April’s full moon often corresponded with the early springtime blooms of a certain pink wildflower native to eastern North America: Phlox subulata – commonly called creeping phlox or moss phlox – which also went by the name ‘moss pink,'” the almanac says.
Catch the Super “Pink” Moon on April 26
The last week of April will see a night sky illuminated by a bright supermoon. Bask under the moonlight by the Super “Pink” Moon.
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NASA said other names for this moon include the sprouting grass moon, the egg moon, and among coastal tribes of North America, the fish moon, because this was when the shad swam upstream to spawn.
And it’s the first of two supermoons this year. A supermoon occurs when the full moon is at its closest approach to Earth in its orbit. The moon appears larger because it’s at a distance of 222,064 miles versus an average of 240,000 miles, according to Space.com.
The moon looks slightly bigger and brighter at this time. On average, supermoons are about 7% bigger and about 15% brighter than a typical full moon.
The term “supermoon” was coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle. It has become an increasingly popular and media-friendly term in the decades since. According to NASA, it’s used by the media today to describe what astronomers would call a perigean full moon.
NASA also says publications and organizations use slightly different thresholds for deciding which full moons qualify as supermoons, but for 2021, all agree the two full moons in April and May are supermoons.
May’s supermoon will occur on May 26.