The Science Behind April's Supermoon
— Boston, MA
On April 26, 2021, word spread about the “pink moon” that would rise that night. This is the first of only two supermoons in 2021. Supermoons are moons that appear bigger than the average full moon, up to 14% larger and 30% brighter as the moon circles at the closest point to Earth in its orbit. A supermoon is around 222,064 miles from Earth, while a usual full moon is about 240,000 miles away.
But why is the supermoon so much closer than an average full moon? The moon is closer during this time because its orbit is elliptical, not circular, which is an oval shape, rather than a perfect circle. This means that the moon has one point that is closest to earth, called the perigee, and one point where the moon is farthest away, the apogee.
While the moon’s elliptical orbit explains the “super” in this special moon, many wonder why April’s moon has been described as pink, since this has nothing to do with the color. Though it may not have a rosy hue, the pink supermoon was named as a sign of spring, according to NASA. It was named after pink moss, also known as mountain phlox, a type of spring flower.
On April 26, this moon was a sight to see, especially at its fullest phase on Monday at 11:32pm EDT. However, for those who missed it, there is good news. There will be another supermoon on May 26, which will be even closer to earth, by 98 miles. Regardless, this pink moon is a cosmic event that is not to be missed in the future!