Don't expect to see any pink coloring.

By Jamie Carter
April 16, 2019

Will you spot the Pink Moon? After three supermoons in a row to ring in 2019, including a “Super Worm Moon,” what’s unique about April's full moon is that it reaches 100% illumination this coming Good Friday. As well as being well-timed for spring celebrations, it’s also sure to be a spectacular event.

Phlox Flowers
Credit: John Sylvester/Getty Images

Why is it called a Pink Moon?

It won't actually be colored pink. In recent times each month's full moon has taken on a common name often originating in Native American culture. Of course, there isn’t just one Native American culture, and April's full moon has been called everything from Sprouting Grass Moon and Fish Moon to Hare Moon and Pink Moon, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. However, Pink Moon refers to the emergence in April of the first wildflowers of spring, specifically wild ground phlox, popularly called "moss pink" flowers.

The seasonal connotations of growth and rebirth are obvious this year since the full moon occurs on Good Friday, which is part of the Easter celebration. April’s full moon is this year called a Paschal Moon by Christianity (“paschal” is derived from Passover), which still uses a lunar calendar to determine the exact date of Easter.

April Pink Moon
Credit: Ben Birchall - PA Images/Getty Images

Why is it a "Pink Easter Moon?"

The Christian celebration of Easter never falls on the same date two years running. That's because it's effectively a lunar celebration, its exact date determined by the moon. Easter Sunday is held the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. However, Easter Sunday this year is on Sunday, April 21 despite the "Super Worm Equinox Moon" occurring a few hours after the spring equinox on Wednesday, March 20. So what's going on? The Church defines equinox as always occurring on March 21 so the "Pink Moon" is therefore first of spring.

When is the Pink Moon?

A full moon occurs when our satellite is on the opposite side of the Earth to the Sun and therefore fully illuminated as seen from Earth. That happens at the same time worldwide regardless of Earth's rotation, and in April that moment occurs at 4:12 a.m. PDT and 7:12 a.m. EDT.

When to observe the Pink Moon

Since the full moon occurs close to dawn, those after the fullest possible Pink Moon should plan to look west at moonset in the early morning of Friday (when the sun will be rising in the east almost simultaneously), though the sight will be almost identical at moonrise (around sunset in the west) later that day. In Los Angeles, moonset is at 6:44 a.m. PDT and moonrise is at 7:59 p.m. while in New York moonset is at 6:38 a.m. EDT and moonrise is at 8:01 p.m. EDT. Be sure to check for exact moonrise and moonset times for where you live.

If cloud or work schedules preclude moon-viewing at those times, know that the Pink Moon is going to look almost as full a day before and after the actual moment of the full moon. So although Good Friday is by far the best time to watch the Pink Moon, it's might be wise to grab a peek on Thursday or Saturday, if you'll miss it on Friday.

How to observe the Pink Moon

If skies are clear close to dawn and dusk on Friday, April 19, get up somewhere reasonably high with a good, clear view down to the western horizon (at dawn) or eastern horizon (at dusk). A skyscraper or a hill is good, but even a third floor of a building can be just as effective. You don’t need any special equipment, but any pair of binoculars will get you an incredible close-up.

When is the next full moon?

The next full moon is the "Flower Moon" on May 18, 2019, and it's going to be something extra-special. Since it will be the third of four full moons in spring, it is officially called a "Blue Moon". Will it look blue? No, but like the Pink Moon, in clear skies it will look stunning as it rises and sets.