A so-called ‘Pink Moon’ will be spotted over the skies of the UK this week – NASA have confirmed.
But what is the 'Pink Moon' and how can you see it?
Here's everything you need to know.
- What is a Pink Moon?
In recent years, traditional Native American names for the full moons have become more common in modern day parlance.
April’s full Moon often corresponded with the early springtime blooms of a certain wildflower native to eastern North America: Phlox subulata—commonly called creeping phlox or moss phlox—which also went by the name “moss pink.”
Thanks to this seasonal association, this full Moon came to be called the Pink Moon!
According to the Maine Farmer's Almanac – which first published the Native American names for the full Moons in the 1930s – the name is derived from one of the first flowers to bloom in spring; the Wild Ground Phlox, which also went by the name “moss pink.”
The first full moon of April – which also goes by names such as Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon or Fish Moon – is traditionally a sign of both springtime and Easter.
- Will the moon actually be pink?
While the moon won't be noticeably pink, it may actually change colour slightly, if you live further north.
The Moon orbits around the Earth on almost the exact same plane as the Earth orbits around the Sun. That means that when the Sun appears highest in the sky near the summer solstice in June, the full Moon opposite our nearest star is generally at its lowest in the sky.
At Europe's higher latitudes – unfortunately the UK is entirely too low to see the phenomenon – this means the full Moon shines through more atmosphere than at other times of the year, which can sometimes give it a reddish tint; it's the same science that makes sunsets and sunrises appear a deep shade of red.
- What is a 'supermoon'?
The moon – our planet's only natural satellite – actually follows an elliptical orbit around the Earth.
This means that at certain points on its egg-shaped path, it can be further away, or closer to us – a differential of about 30,000 miles.
The closest point is called the perigee, and the furthest is the apogee. When a full moon falls on the perigee, it appears far bigger and brighter in the sky and becomes known as a supermoon.
The phenomenon is not actually that rare, and this month's is the second in a trilogy that began with March's full moon, and ends with a third on May 7.
During a supermoon, the diameter of the moon can appear to be about 14 per cent greater than an average full moon.
- When will the moon be biggest?
The full moon will be in the night sky on the evening of Tuesday, April 7, though it will technically be at its fullest at 3.35am in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
It will rise at around 6.55pm on Tuesday evening and won’t set until about 6.56am the next morning, meaning it will be visible in all its glory throughout the night – clear skies permitting of course.
For the best effect – and the closest you’ll get to witnessing the spectacular images seen across social media following such an event – you’ll want to look east shortly after moonrise.
“When the moon is near the horizon, it can look unnaturally large when viewed through trees, buildings, or other foreground objects," say NASA.
"The effect is an optical illusion, but that fact doesn’t take away from the experience."