Why do we speak of a spring “Super Pink Moon”?

La pleine lune de la nuit du samedi 16 au dimanche 17 avril 2022 est surnommée « Super Lune Rose ». Elle ne sera ni « super » ni « rose »...

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The full moon on the night of Saturday April 16 to Sunday April 17, 2022 is nicknamed
The full moon on the night of Saturday April 16 to Sunday April 17, 2022 is nicknamed “Super Pink Moon”. It will be neither “super” nor “pink”… (©Ganapathy Kumar / Unsplash)

Have you heard of the “Super Pink Moon”, supposed to be observable in the sky on the night of Saturday 16 to Sunday 17 April 2022 ? “It has no real astronomical meaning,” sweeps Michel Arnaud from Querqueville Astronomical Group (GAQ).

At the risk of disappointing lovers of the stars, the full moon in the sky will not be draped in pink, nor will it be larger than usual. The Supermoon or “Super Moon” was actually theorized in 1979 by American astrologer Richard Nolle, without any real scientific foundation. This term has since been widely popularized in part by the Anglo-Saxons and NASArelating “more to communication than to astronomy”, considers Michel Arnaud.

A phenomenon imperceptible to the naked eye

In reality, the full moon on the night of April 16 to 17 is not totally different from the others. At least with the naked eye. Because, if, indeed, the moon will be this night at perigee, that is to say at the point of its orbit closest to the Earth, “we are unable to actually see these variations, it is simply an optical illusion”explains Dominique Boust, president of the GAQ.

It will certainly be closer to us, but there will only be “about 11% difference” between a “classic” full moon and the one that we can observe in the sky next night, specifies Michel Arnaud. The star will also be brighter.

An orange-red color

As for the color of the Moon, it can actually vary and pull towards an orange-red. “It’s partly linked to the Earth’s atmosphere which filters sunlight,” says Michel Arnaud.

Despite everything, this moon, also called the “spring moon” has a symbolic and poetic character, at the crossroads of many religions and beliefs, as NASA explains.

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“If it can let people peek into the sky…”

Dominique BoustPresident of GAQ

Even if he has a lot of reservations about the popularization of the “Super Moon”, Dominique Boust tempers: “If it can allow people to take a look in the sky and observe it, raise their heads and see that ‘there are fewer stars because of light pollution and dreaming a little, that’s the main thing. This is the only interest I see in this communication around this full moon…”

On the other hand, it will be possible to observe a total lunar eclipse on May 16!

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