What is a Super Pink Moon and When Will There be One in 2021?

Stargazers have a special lunar event to look forward to in April, with a super pink moon set to appear in the sky near the end of the month. But what is a super pink moon, when will the super pink moon happen, and is a super pink moon pink?

A super pink moon isn't actually pink in color at all. A full moon occurs roughly once a month, and humans have attributed various names to each one of these over the centuries.

In North America, a full moon that occurs in April has come to be known as the pink moon.

The name is said to derive from the pink blooms of the wildflower Phlox subulata, also known as creeping phlox, moss phlox, moss pink, and mountain phlox, which often emerge in April.

A full moon appears when the moon and the sun align on opposite sides of the Earth, and the side of the moon facing Earth appears fully illuminated.

A supermoon, meanwhile, is the term given to a full moon that occurs when the moon is on the point of its orbit that's closest to Earth, known as the perigee.

The moon's orbit is elliptical, and when it approaches its perigee it appears slightly larger and brighter, but the difference is difficult to detect.

"A full moon at perigee is just 7 percent larger than a regular full moon, so the difference in size is not discernible, however it does appear slightly brighter than usual," Tania de Sales Marques, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory in the U.K., previously told Newsweek.

A super pink moon, therefore, is a supermoon that occurs in April.

The next super pink moon will be visible in the sky on the evening of Monday, April 26, 2021.

According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the super pink moon will reach peak illumination at 11:33 p.m. ET, though the best time to observe it may be at sunset, as the moon tends to appear to be bigger when it is closer to the horizon than it does when it is higher in the sky, a phenomenon known as the "moon illusion."

"A full moon coinciding with perigee is an annual event, but since a supermoon is not so strictly defined, the threshold for what's considered a supermoon may vary to also include full moons that come close to perigee," de Sales Marques added.

"This more relaxed definition can give us more than one supermoon per year."

As such, another supermoon, the super full flower moon, will occur one month later, on May 26.

A super pink moon visible above NYC
The super pink moon rises behind the Empire State in New York City on April 7, 2020. Another super pink moon will appear in the sky on the night of April 26, 2021. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images