This April, avid stargazers and night sky enthusiasts everywhere will be mesmerized by a rare lunar event that will illuminate the sky with the brightest supermoon of 2020. A supermoon occurs when a full moon happens on the same exact night that the moon reaches the closest point to Earth in its orbit.
This month, a super “pink” moon will light up the sky on April 7th, and peak in the sky around 10:30 p.m Eastern Standard Time. Although this year’s spring supermoon is called a pink supermoon, the color of the moon itself won’t actually be pink. The event originally got that name because of the pink wildflowers, known as the creeping phlox, that bloom in the early spring, typically in coordination with the seasons full moon patterns.
The moon itself will reflect a golden orange hue when it’s lowest in the sky, and progressively brighten to white as it rises. On average, supermoons are about 7% bigger and 15% brighter than the average full moon, so sometimes the difference is not immediately apparent to any other full moon.
This change in size, although slight, occurs because of the moon’s specific orbit around the Earth. The “eccentric orbit,” as referred to by most scientists, isn’t perfectly circular, so there are moments when it’s significantly closer to Earth than we even realize, like it will be this month.
“The term ‘supermoon’ was introduced by astrologer Richard Noelle in 1979. It didn’t have much science behind it, except that he coined a term for when the moon was full, when it was 90 percent of the closest distance it could be to Earth. And a couple of years ago, it just caught on. I think it’s just because someone took the word ‘super’ and put it in front of the word ‘moon,’” said Jackie Faherty, an astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History.
Other whimsical nicknames for April’s own super pink moon includes the Sprouting Grass, Egg, and Fish moon. All of the names obviously were originally coined from things that remind us of spring. This year, the super pink moon is also known as a paschal moon because of how close it is to Easter.
Thanks to social distancing policies brought on by the recent covid-19 pandemic, most astrology lovers have plenty of time to go outside in their yard and view a multitude of cosmic events this month. Thanks to technology, there are also plenty of apps that can be downloaded onto your smartphone that allow you to point your camera at the night sky and show you, live-action, what constellations, planets, and other astrological events are occuring on any given night.
Some other moon and stargazing events that will be occurring in April of this year include the Lyrids meteor shower, which will be peaking on April 22nd and 23rd. The planet Venus will also be visible during this month, however, it typically just looks like a brighter star when compared to other average stars; another great reason to look into some sort of sky application.
“People can easily stargaze near their home, even in a city. Both light pollution and air pollution can impact how stars appear in the sky, but lately, air pollution has fallen as there are fewer cars on the road and fewer factories at work. The best place to observe the sky is wherever you currently are. So you don’t have to find that perfect location — it doesn’t exist,” said Michelle Nichols, director of public observing at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.
As previously stated these astrological events will be occurring all month and into the summer, so while you may be stuck in the confines of your property lines indefinitely, at least you can step outside every night, take in the fresh air, and observe some truly historical stargazing.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.