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Pink Moon Rising

"I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on its way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get you all"

~ Pink Moon, Nick Drake, 1972

The bright full April Super Moon that rises tonight has many names in various countries. In colonial America, moon names were borrowed from native American tribes or imported from European traditions, giving an abundance of names including: "Seed Moon", "Sprouting Grass Moon", "Pascal Moon", "Egg Moon", "Goose-Egg Moon", ""Fish Moon", "Frog Moon", "Spring Moon", "Awakening Moon", "Sap Moon", and the evocative "Pink Moon." Though the moon can on occasion take on various colour hues, the "Pink Moon" is named after the "moss pink" flower, Phlox subulata. Native to the Eastern U.S., the plant is one of the earliest and most widespread of spring flowers. 🌸 🌕

The Pink Moon of April is named for the spring flower Phlox sublata, which goes by the common names of:

  • Creeping Phlox

  • Flowering Moss

  • Moss Phlox

  • Moss Pink

  • Moss-pink

  • Mountain Pink

  • Rock Phlox

  • Thrift

The term "supermoon" was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and refers to either a new or full Moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth. 

Although the moon does not appear pink, it can take on different casts depending on the viewpoint of the observer.

The first two expeditions to the moon, in December 1968 and May 1969, sent back conflicting reports on its color when viewed up close. The Apollo 8 astronauts described the surface as whitish gray, like "dirty beach sand," in the words of Bill Anders. Tom Stafford's Apollo 10 crew saw tans and browns, with the Sea of Tranquillity being "chocolate brown."

Mike Collins of Apollo 11 later recalled "a cheery rose color" near noon. Jim Irwin of Apollo 15 wrote (in his 1973 book To Rule the Night) that the moon was "all ochers, tans, golds, whites, grays, browns—no greens, no blues."

However, when orbiting over the night side of the moon in Earthshine (the equivalent of moonlight, but brighter), the surface looked "pale blue," according to Apollo 16's Charlie Duke. Collins also described a "bluish glow," which his crewmate Neil Armstrong thought beautiful. "It's a view worth the price of the trip," he radioed to Mission Control during one nightside orbit.

This tartan, by Carol A.L. Martin is a study in pink and grey.

For more on this year's pink moon, click the photo!

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