Pink supermoon to light up the skies over Britain this week

Rob Waugh
·Contributor
·2 min read

Watch: Stunning close-up of pink supermoon rising in Kent in the UK

A pink supermoon will light up the night skies over the UK this week – and peak during the early hours of Tuesday night.

It’s not actually pink, of course – a "Pink Moon" is the term for the second full moon in April, and it’s the third supermoon in a row after the worm moon on March 9.

Supermoons (or perigean full moons) are full moons that happen when the moon's orbit brings it closest to Earth, and can be up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than normal full moons.

Astronomer Anna Ross of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich told Sky News: "The average distance of the moon from the Earth is 238,855 miles, but the moon will reach its closest point this lunar month on 27 April (this Tuesday) at 4.24pm, when it will be 222,065 miles away.

"The exact moment of the full moon closest to this point – so the supermoon – is also on 27 April, but at 4.31am.

"This means that the best times to view this supermoon will be anytime during the night of 27 April – when the moon will rise in the east just before sunset and set in the west around sunrise."

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The term "supermoon" was coined in 1979, with Nasa saying: "When a full moon appears at perigee [its closest point to Earth] it is slightly brighter and larger than a regular full moon – and that's where we get a 'supermoon'."

The term "Pink Moon" comes from a spring flower, wild ground phlox AKA moss phlox, which grows in North America and appears at the time of April’s full moon.

Silhouette aircraft fly in front of supermoon
Supermoons are closer to Earth, so they look bigger. (Getty)

It is linked to the date of Easter, which falls on the Sunday after the full moon that appears after the spring equinox.

The rules date from AD 325, when the First Council of Nicaea decided that the moon would help pilgrims travel for Easter.

Read more: Five moon myths (and how to disprove them yourself)

It’s also referred to as the Egg Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Growing Moon or Full Fish Moon.

Astronomer and Earthsky contributor Bruce McClure wrote: “Some astronomers complain about the name supermoon. They like to call supermoons hype.

“But supermoons aren’t hype. They’re special. Many people now know and use the word supermoon. We notice even some diehards are starting to use it now... No doubt about it. Supermoon is a catchier term than perigean full moon."

Watch: Stunning 4K footage of 'worm' supermoon setting behind Swiss mountain