What Time to See the Pink Moon Tonight, the First Supermoon of 2021

On Monday night, skywatchers will be able to see the first supermoon of the year as Earth's only natural satellite comes particularly close to us.

The moon on Monday is also called the pink moon based on its American Indian moon name. The Maine Farmer's Almanac began publishing these names for the months of the year in the 1930s.

It will appear opposite the sun in Earth-based longitude at 11:32 p.m. EDT on April 26, and will continue to look full for around three days at the same time, NASA has said.

For those who cannot get a good view of the moon where they are, the Virtual Telescope Project will host a live HD stream of the spectacle when the moon rises above the city of Rome, Italy, where the project is based. It is due to start at 5:15 p.m. UTC (1:15 p.m. EDT).

The term supermoon refers to a full moon that occurs when the moon is at its closest point to the Earth—known as its perigee. Full supermoons are usually when the moon appears biggest and brightest in the sky, according to NASA.

Gianluca Masi, manager of the Virtual Telescope Project, told Newsweek: "While it has no scientific value, the supermoon is an excellent opportunity to invite people to look up and rediscover there is a cosmic show up there that people can enjoy just with their own eyes!

"Being a few percent closer than on average—the average distance to the moon is about
238,000 miles, this perigee is 221,000 miles—the supermoon will be a bit larger in apparent size and brighter than an ordinary full moon, but casual stargazers will never note those subtle differences."

The name pink moon refers to the full moon in April and comes from the herb moss pink, which grows in the eastern U.S. and is one of the earliest flowering plants in spring, according to Gordon Johnston, a retired NASA executive. Sadly, the name does not mean the moon will look pink. It will be its usual color.

The pink moon also goes by other names and has varied cultural and religious significance. Some coastal North American tribes would call it the fish moon because it occurs at the same time as shad, a type of fish, would swim upstream to spawn.

In Eastern Christianity, which celebrates Easter in May, the pink moon is called the paschal moon and is the full moon before Easter.

For Hindus, the moon corresponds with Hanuman Jayanti, the celebration of the birth of Lord Hanuman.

Native American moon names used to be applied to the lunar month in which it occurred, starting with the new or full moon. This means they don't always align with the modern Gregorian calendar now used.

Moon in the sky
A full moon glows at dusk in Santa Fe, New Mexico, March 2, 2018. Supermoons occur when the moon is close to us and is also a full Moon. Robert Alexander/Getty