Clear Skies and Close Approach Make for a 'Pink Supermoon'

April 6, 2020

Clear Skies and Close Approach Make for a 'Pink Supermoon'

TUCSON, Ariz. — The biggest full moon of the year, dubbed a "pink supermoon," will occur tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7, when the moon will be as close to Earth as it will get for the reminder of the year.

Tim Swindle, who heads the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, says the moon will be at its perigee – the closest point in its orbit around Earth – at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. Arizona time) on Tuesday, but it won't be visible at that time since it will be daylight.

"At 10:35 p.m. EDT – 7:35 p.m. here – the moon will be exactly full as it will be opposite from the sun in its orbit," Swindle said. "And since it's a full moon, it will rise right around sunset, 6:38 p.m., with sunset occurring at 6:47 p.m., to be exact."

While it's called a pink supermoon, the moon won't actually appear pink. According to the Farmers' Almanac, the full moon in April was so named because it often rose when meadows were painted with swatches of moss phlox, a pink wildflower native to eastern North America, during its early springtime bloom.

Because the moon's orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle but slightly elongated, its distance from Earth is not always the same. On average, about 238,855 miles lie between Earth and the moon, or roughly 30 Earth diameters. During a supermoon, the moon can be almost 30,000 miles closer – about three Earth diameters.

In a typical year, there can be three or four supermoons in a row, either full moons or new moons, according to NASA. What catches the public's eye are, of course, the full supermoons, as new moons are visibly absent.

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Researcher contact:
Tim Swindle
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
tswindle@lpl.arizona.edu

Media contact:
Daniel Stole
University Communications
stolte@arizona.edu

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2018 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $687 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 65 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.