Pink moon coming soon to a sky near you

You know about the blue moon, but a pink one? Yes, a pink moon will be featured on April 15 this year, along with a lunar eclipse. You’ve never seen a pink moon? Actually, you probably have; there was one just last year.

The key to the story is that the pink moon isn’t actually that color. Instead the “pink” part of the equation refers to the season and the emergence of a particular plant associated with it. During this time of the year, an early  pink flower appears, the mountain phlox or wild ground phlox (Phlox subulata), one of the earliest harbingers of Spring.

So many names for a moon

While the name “pink moon” is catchy, it’s also got a host of other names, including (but not limited to) the Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Paschal Moon and the descriptive Sprouting Grass Moon. The nomenclature for pink moon comes from the term given the spring moon by Native Americans, specifically the Algonquins, who inhabited the area from New England to Lake Superior. Other Native Americans had their own moon designations, such as the coastal tribes, which named it for the fish swimming upstream to spawn (as in Full Fish Moon).

This springtime moon is also important because it serves as the signal for Easter, which is usually celebrated the first Sunday after the Paschal Moon, the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox, according to The Epoch Times.

Pink moon on April 15, 2014

This year, according to the tried-and-true Farmer’s Almanac, the pink moon will take place at 3:42 am EST, although the pink moon is technically associated with the entire week of April 13 to 19, and not just one day. The full moon, however, will only be visible for the entire night on April 15, from sunset to sunrise; for the rest of April, it will appear partially during the daylight.

According to almanac’s sage advice, this is the perfect time of year for “killing weeds, thinning, pruning, mowing, cutting timber and planting below-ground crops.” The 2014 almanac seems to indicate April is an auspicious time for fishing and “setting eggs,” which may be just how the pink moon got those other lunar names.

Other celestial sights

While sky watchers can see the pink moon on April 15, there are plenty of other celestial sights worth pursuing this month. Astronomy buffs won’t be able to spot Mercury or Uranus (which will be too close to the sun), but prime sighting of Venus as a “morning star” just before sunrise will be a treat for many. Mars will be closest to the Earth just a day before the pink moon on April 14. While no one will see the “pink” in the pink moon, April will present a better chance for spotting the “Great Red Spot” on Jupiter, according to the International Business Times.

The moon, the season, the celebration

Pink flowers, eggs, fish and planting—all seem part and parcel of spring and what’s associated with Easter celebrations. Like most holidays, there’s no removing the celebration from the time of year, change of season and all the reasons to rejoice about the re-emergence of nature from its winter’s sleep.