SunstarTV Burau: April’s full moon will be the biggest and brightest of the year, appearing as the first of only two supermoons in 2021. The rare spectacle occurs when the moon is approaching its closest point to Earth in its orbit, with the next one taking place almost exactly one month later on 26 May.
This month’s supermoon will peak at 4.31am BST on 27 April, but will appear full in the sky to casual observers on each day either side. April’s full moon is traditionally referred to as the Pink Moon by Native American tribes and colonial settlers to the US.
This is not because of its colour – although it can appear pink in certain circumstances – but because it coincides with springtime blooms in the northern hemisphere. Specifically, the flowering of a type of pink moss called Phlox Subulata occurs at this time of year.
It will be the first supermoon since last May, when the moon passed within 360,000km (224,000 miles) of Earth. April’s full moon will pass just 357,378km from Earth at its perigee.
The moon’s proximity should mean that it will be possible to view craters and other surface features, even without binoculars or a telescope.
The supermoon will appear even bigger when it is rising or setting over the horizon due to an effect called the “Moon illusion”, whereby the eye is tricked into comparing its size to objects within the line of sight like trees or buildings.
“Because these relatively close objects are in front of the moon, our brain is tricked into thinking the moon is much closer to the objects that are in our line of sight,” explained Mitzi Adams, a solar scientist at Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
“At moon rise or set, it only appears larger than when it is directly overhead because there are no nearby objects with which to compare it.” Long range weather forecasts from the Met Office suggest that late April will be a good opportunity for skygazers in the UK to witness the pink supermoon. The weather service predicts that “fine and dry weather is likely to be more prevalent overall, especially during late-April”.