By Chelsea Gohd
SAN ANGELO, Texas (SPACE.COM) — Tonight (April 7), if you look up at the night sky, you’ll see the “Super Pink Moon,” the biggest supermoon of the year, shining big and bright. (San Angelo details: Moon will rise almost exactly due east tonight at 7:54 p.m. It will be 100% full moon at 9:35 p.m. )
The full moon will be at perigee-syzygy, meaning it will be closest to the Earth — 221,772 miles (356,907 kilometers) away — and the Earth, moon and sun will all align. This means that when a the moon is at perigee-syzygy, it will look larger and brighter than usual. But, because perigee-syzygy isn’t that catchy, the term “supermoon” came about and this particular full moon was additionally nicknamed the “Super Pink Moon.”
Now, unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that the moon will actually be pink. This supermoon got its name because the April full moon often corresponds with the blooming of pink flowers in eastern North America. Still, “It will be bright and brilliant and absolutely gorgeous,” Jackie Faherty, an astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History here in New York City, told Space.com.
Faherty added that, while you will be able to view this “Super Pink Moon” all night long as it rises, moves across the sky and sets, it will be especially breathtaking at moonrise. The spectacle is due to an optical illusion of sorts that occurs, as the moon is rising above the horizon that makes it appear larger. (You can search your local moonrise and moonset times here.)
A great learning opportunity
With so many people self-isolating at home with their families right now, this “Super Pink Moon” is a great opportunity to have some fun and learn, Faherty said.
Families can start studying the moon with their young children and this supermoon is a great place to start, Faherty said. Not only is the supermoon extra bright and beautiful, but even the name “pink moon” makes it even more exciting for kids.
“This is an invitation for everybody to become that moon expert, be the person in that small group that can differentiate when the moon is just a little bit brighter,” Faherty said.
More advanced moon-gazers of any age can take this opportunity to identify structures on the moon, she said. Without even needing binoculars, people can start recognizing basins and craters on the moon and even learn their names.
Studying the moon can be creative as well, Faherty said, suggesting that families teach both “the science of what’s up there” and the cultural side of the night sky.
As families practice observing how the moon changes every night and findinging its structures, they can also come up with their own stories about the night sky, Faherty suggested. Parents can even prompt their children with questions like “Why would we have names for moons?” “What other names do we have for the moon?” and “What traditions do people have about the moon?”
“I sing little songs to my niece every night before she goes to bed about the moon and the earth and how much they love each other,” Faherty said. “I think it’s good for us all to remember we’re creative people and the nighttime sky is a canvas.”
- How the ‘supermoon’ looks (infographic)
- How to observe the moon with a telescope
- Supermoon and pink sky: Full moon rises against ‘Belt of Venus’