The Biggest Full Moon of the Year Rises on Tuesday — Here's How and When to See It (Video)
2020’s brightest and best supermoon will light up the sky on Tuesday evening.
So far, 2020 has been a year of supermoons. First there was February’s “Super Snow Moon,” which was quickly followed by March’s “Super Worm Moon.” However, these were mere celestial warm-up acts. Now comes the third – and not even the last –supermoon of the year, the “Super Pink Moon.” Lighting up the sky on the evening of Tuesday, April 7, the Super Pink Moon is destined to be the biggest, brightest, and best supermoon of the year.
Here’s how, when, and where to see the Super Pink Moon.
Related: More space travel and astronomy news
What is the Super Pink Moon?
The Super Pink Moon is April’s full moon, which just happens to coincide perfectly with a specific point in the moon’s orbit that brings our satellite the closest it comes to us in the entire year. That point is called perigee, and when it occurs, the moon can be around 14% bigger in apparent size than usual. To appreciate its larger apparent size, it’s best to look east at moonrise (which is around sunset for a full moon) or west at moonset (close to sunrise). When a supermoon is close to the horizon, you can easily appreciate its extra size and brightness.
Why is it called the Super Pink Moon?
It’s called “super” because on Tuesday, April 7, the moon will be the closest it gets to Earth in all of 2020. A “supermoon” is not an astronomical term, but it’s generally defined as when the moon is less than 223,694 miles from Earth.
Meanwhile, April’s full moon is traditionally known as a “Pink Moon” in North America because it coincides with the springtime blooms of the “moss pink” wildflower, though it’s also been called the Sprouting Grass Moon, Fish Moon, Hare Moon, and Egg Moon.
What does the Super Pink Moon have to do with Easter?
Few people realize that Easter is actually a lunar festival. April’s full moon is known as the Paschal Moon (“paschal” meaning “relating to Easter”) by the Christian church, which uses it to determine the date of Easter. Traditionally, Easter is held on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox. Since the spring equinox occurred on March 20, and the Super Pink Moon falls on April 7, Easter Sunday will be held on April 12.
When are the best times to see the Super Pink Moon?
The best time to view a full moon — whether it's a supermoon or not— is always as it appears on the eastern horizon. If you have an east-facing backyard or view from a window (the higher the better), get in position on Tuesday, April 7 at 7:07 p.m. EDT if you’re in New York and at 7:11 p.m. PDT if you're in Los Angeles. Sunset is a few minutes later in both locations, so it should look spectacular. For any other locations, check the exact time of your local moonrise.
Will the Super Pink Moon look pink?
Not specifically — that’s not why it's called a “Pink Moon”— but if you catch it at moonrise, it can take on a rosy, pinkish-orange hue for a few minutes. In any case, a full supermoon-rise is always a magical sight in a clear sky.
When is the next full moon?
The next full moon will occur on May 7, 2020. Though it won’t be quite as large as the Super Pink Moon, the timing of the moon’s full phase and its perigee are close enough for May’s full moon to be called the “Super Flower Moon”— the fourth and final supermoon of 2020.