Get ready for the supermoon, a.k.a., the “pink moon,” a cosmic feast for the eyes that makes the moon appear bigger and brighter.
The event, which occurs at 11:31 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on April 26, happens when the moon is both full and closest to the Earth (within 90 percent of its closest distance from our planet) during its roughly 28-day orbit. When this happens, the moon, "our celestial partner" appears to pop. “But the moon doesn’t actually grow bigger,” Jackie Faherty, an astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City tells Yahoo Life. “It’s just your perspective.”
Learn more about the supermoon — in 3D! — below.
"We get a full moon every month (and sometimes twice when we get a blue moon) so this will be the fourth full moon of the year," says Faherty, with Jan. 28, Feb. 27 and Mar. 28 being the first three dates. "While a full moon isn’t always a supermoon, a supermoon is, by definition, a full moon that is just really close." (On the opposite end of the spectrum, a micromoon is when the moon is at its farthest point from the Earth).
Technically, the term “supermoon” is misleading because it’s not all that different from your typical full moon. “It’s a little brighter than normal, but it’s not a powerful effect,” she says. “And astronomers have a terrible relationship with the word 'supermoon' because it has no good technical definition.” In fact, an astrologer — someone who claims to make future predictions based on the position of the planets — named Richard Nolle created the name in 1979.
And that “pink" nickname isn’t derived from any sort of rosy hue emitted from the moon— according to The Old Farmer's Almanac, it only symbolizes a flower called Phlox subulata with “moss pink” leaves that bloom in April and May.
It's fairly easy to enjoy the supermoon, says Faherty. "It’s as simple as looking up! A full moon can and will be easily viewed even in big metropolitan areas like the middle of Times Square. The only thing that can ruin it is clouds or bad weather."
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