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Full Pink Moon 2022: April's full moon joins a line of planets

A supermoon rises behind the U.S. Capitol, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Washington., D.C.
A supermoon rises behind the U.S. Capitol, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Washington., D.C. (Image credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA)

April's full moon, the "Pink Moon" will occur in the eastern U.S. on April 16 at 2:55 p.m. (18:55 UTC), and as the moon moves west in the sky a line of planets will rise in the east, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.

In New York City, moonrise for the full moon is at 7:42 p.m. EDT on April 16, nearly five hours after it is officially full, according to timeanddate.com (opens in new tab). The sun sets that evening at 7:36 p.m. The timing of lunar phases depends on the moon and its position relative to Earth, so the hour It becomes officially a full moon will differ according to one's time zone.

Some locations will catch the moment, such as London, where the full moon occurs at 7:55 p.m. local time, with the moon rising at 7:45 p.m., and Melbourne, Australia, where it is at 4:55 a.m. local time and the moon rises the evening of April 16 at 5:45 p.m. 

Hoping to snap a good photo of this full moon? Our guide on how to photograph the moon has some helpful tips. If you're looking for a camera, here's our overview on the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. As always, our guides for the best telescopes and best binoculars can help you prepare for the next great skywatching event.

Full moons happen when the moon is exactly on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun. The moon's orbit is inclined slightly to the plane of the Earth's orbit, so the moon doesn't pass through the Earth's shadow every time it completes a circuit of the Earth. Similarly, we don't see the moon pass directly between the sun and Earth every month. As a result, we see the illuminated side of our satellite most of the time. (That said, the next lunar eclipse is slated for May 15, and will be visible in the Americas). 

Through binoculars or a small telescope the full moon will look very bright — so much so that details can often be lost. From a lunar observer's perspective the sun would be directly overhead – it would be noontime – so there are few shadows to give contrast. Moon filters are available that can make some features stand out, but if one waits a few days after the full moon or observes a few days before, shadows bring out more detail. 

Related: How to observe the moon with a telescope

April's Full Pink Moon and visible planets

This sky map shows the locations of the visible planets Venus, Mars and Saturn in the predawn sky at 5:30 a.m. EDT looking southeast on April 16, 2022, the day of the full Pink Moon. Pluto is not visible to the unaided eye. (Image credit: Starry Night Software)

On April 16, as the moon gets higher in the evening, the sky will be empty of naked-eye planets. That changes after midnight. From New York City the first on the scene is Saturn, which rises at 3:50 a.m. on April 17 (opens in new tab). Saturn is in Capricorn, a faint constellation, which makes Saturn stand out more. At that point the moon will be low in the western horizon. 

Next to rise is Mars, at 4:13 a.m. Venus follows at 4:36 a.m. Both are in Aquarius, another constellation with few bright stars – from city locations it can be invisible. Jupiter rises at 5:07 a.m. in the constellation Pisces. By 5:30 a.m. the planets will form a nearly straight line from east to southeast, with Jupiter on the left (lowest in the sky, a mere 4 degrees above the horizon). Look upwards and to the right at a shallow angle to pass Venus and Mars. Saturn is highest in the sky (17 degrees). Sunrise is at 6:14 a.m. April 17 in New York, so if one has a relatively flat horizon the whole group should be visible for about an hour. 

For Southern Hemisphere skywatchers the situation is similar, though the planets will be arranged a bit differently. In mid-southern latitudes one will see the planets rising from almost due east and forming a more vertical line that leans north. If one is facing east the planets will appear to go up and to the left. In the Southern Hemisphere winter is approaching, which puts the ecliptic (the path the planets follow against the background stars) at a steeper angle to the horizon. So from Melbourne, Australia, the first planet to rise will still be Saturn, but it will do so at 1:37 a.m. local time on April 17 (opens in new tab). By the time Jupiter rises at 4:13 a.m., the ringed planet will already be at an elevation of 29 degrees. By sunrise Jupiter will hit the 30 degree mark and Saturn will be 58 degrees above the horizon. 

Constellations with the Full Pink Moon

Meanwhile, the moon will be in the Virgo constellation, one of the more prominent springtime star patterns. One can find Spica, the brightest star in the group, by using the Big Dipper's handle and making an "arc to Arcturus." 

A sweep along the handle leads one to Arcturus, the brightest star in Boötes, the Herdsman, and continuing southward leads to Spica. As you turn westward along the zodiac, one encounters the Leo constellation, the Lion which by about 10 p.m. on April 16 is reaching the meridian in mid-northern latitudes. 

After midnight, the summer stars become visible, with the Summer Triangle — Vega, Altair and Deneb — above the horizon by 2 a.m. East of Virgo (and the Moon) will be Scorpius, which hosts Antares, which has a distinctive reddish hue that makes it visible even with he moon's glare. 

How the Full Pink Moon got its name

The Pink Moon rises over Boston in this photo taken by Chris Cook on April 11, 2017. April's full moon isn't actually pink; it's named after the wild ground phlox, one of the first flowers to bloom in spring. However, the moon can appear red-orange due to the composition of Earth's atmosphere and the angle at which it is viewed. (Image credit: Chris Cook/www.cookphoto.com)

Despite its moniker, the Pink Moon isn't actually pink. The name "Pink Moon" comes from the bloom of ground phlox, a pink flower common in North America, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac (opens in new tab). It has also been called the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon and the Fish Moon.

According to the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition (opens in new tab), the Ojibwe peoples indigenous to North America called it the Sucker Moon after the common fish species known as suckerfish (opens in new tab). This fish, also known as the remora, is one of the animals that the Ojibwe saw as a messenger between the spirit world and ours. In the same region, the Cree called April's full moon the Goose Moon, as April was the month when geese returned to the north after migrating south for the winter. 

Related: Full moon names (and more) for 2021

The Tlingit of the Pacific Northwest call the April full moon "X'eigaa Kayaaní Dís," meaning "Budding moon of plants and shrubs," according to the Tlingit Moon and Tide Teaching Resource (opens in new tab) published by the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. 

In New Zealand, the Māori people's traditions for April full moons reflect the fact that April is an autumn month in the Southern Hemisphere. The Māori called the April moon "Paenga-whāwhā," describing the month as a time when "all straw is now stacked at the borders of the plantations," according to The Encyclopedia of New Zealand (opens in new tab).

For Jewish people, April 15 marks the beginning of the holiday of Passover (the 15th day of the lunar month of Nisan), which celebrates the escape from slavery in Egypt. The Jewish calendar is based on the lunar month, and this year the it uses a "leap" month called Adar II to keep it (somewhat) in step with the solar calendar. 

Christians celebrate Easter during this lunation, though the date of Easter is calculated from the 14th day of the lunar month rather than the astronomical full moon, and western churches have generally followed the rule of Easter falling on a Sunday following that lunar date. Hence, Easter in 2022 is April 17, the first Sunday after the lunar date (14th day of the 4th month) that falls after the Spring Equinox — but even that last date is a little arbitrary, because the astronomical Equinox can fall on March 19, 20, or 21, but churches use March 21 by convention. 

In China, the April full moon falls during Táoyuè, or Peach month, named for when peach trees blossom. 

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Jesse Emspak
Jesse Emspak

Jesse Emspak is a freelance journalist who has contributed to several publications, including Space.com, Scientific American, New Scientist, Smithsonian.com and Undark. He focuses on physics and cool technologies but has been known to write about the odder stories of human health and science as it relates to culture. Jesse has a Master of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Rochester. Jesse spent years covering finance and cut his teeth at local newspapers, working local politics and police beats. Jesse likes to stay active and holds a fourth degree black belt in Karate, which just means he now knows how much he has to learn and the importance of good teaching.