Full moons illuminate the sky every month, but why do they have different names?
The Full Worm Moon is pictured over Tbilisi, Georgia on March 28, 2021 CREDIT: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP
Dust off those binoculars and keep your eyes on the skies, as the fourth full moon of 2021 is fast approaching. As one of 12 full moons to admire every year, April's moon was dubbed the Pink Moon by Early Native Americans because pink wildflowers appear in North America in early spring. But when and how can you see it? Here we've compiled a complete guide to the Moon, Earth's only natural satellite and the largest and brightest object in our night sky, which has enchanted and inspired mankind for centuries. From supermoon to blue moon, here's everything explained in one place. When is the next full moon? The next full moon, otherwise known as the Pink Moon, is set to grace our skies on April 27, reaching its official peak at 4:31 am. How often does a full moon occur? A full moon occurs every 29.5 days and is when the Moon is completely illuminated by the Sun's rays. It occurs when the Earth is directly aligned between the Sun and the Moon. While most years see 12 full moons, some years have 13. This means that some months will see two full moons, with the second known as a Blue Moon. In 2020, 13 full moons graced our skies, with the second of two full moons in October named the Blue Hunter's Moon.
Why do full moons have different names? The early Native Americans didn't record time using months of the Julian or Gregorian calendar. Instead, tribes gave each full moon a nickname to keep track of the seasons and lunar months.
Most of the names relate to an activity or an event that took place at the time in each location. However, it wasn't a uniform system and tribes tended to name and count moons differently. Some, for example, counted four seasons a year while others counted five. Others defined a year as 12 moons, while others said there were 13. Colonial Americans adopted some of the moon names and applied them to their own calendar system which is why they're still in existence today, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.
April: Pink Moon
April's full moon is known as the Pink Moon, but don't be fooled into thinking it will turn pink. It's actually named after pink wildflowers, which appear in North America in early spring. It is also known as the Egg Moon, due to the spring egg-laying season. Some coastal tribes referred to it as Fish Moon because it appeared at the same time as the shad swimming upstream. The Pink Moon appears during the same month as the Lyrid meteor shower and in 2021, it will also be the first super full moon of the year. When? April 27
The different stages of the total lunar eclipse, also known as the "super blood wolf moon", which took place in January 2019
While the next total lunar eclipse is not set to take place in the UK until May 16, 2022, a partial lunar eclipse will grace our skies on November 19, 2021. This type of eclipse takes place when the Earth moves between the Sun and the full moon, but they do not precisely form a straight line. If weather conditions are in our favor, half of the moon will appear in the sky with a reddish glow. Once in a blue moon Does this well-known phrase have anything to do with the Moon? Well, yes it does. We use it to refer to something happening very rarely and a blue moon is a rare occurrence. A monthly blue moon is a name given to a second full moon that occurs in a single calendar month and this typically occurs only once every two to three years. In 2020, the Hunter's Moon on October 31 was a blue moon because it is the second full moon to occur in October. A seasonal blue moon describes the third of four full moons to occur in an astronomical season. In 2021, the Sturgeon Moon on August 22, will be a seasonal blue moon. There are lots of other moons, too - how many do you know? Full moon: We all know what these are. They come around every month and light up the sky at night. New moon: Sometimes known as the invisible phase, as it generally can't be seen in the sky. It's when the Sun and Moon are aligned, with the Sun and Earth on opposite sides of the Moon. As a result, the side of the Moon that faces the Earth is left in complete darkness. Black moon: Most experts agree that this refers to the second new moon in a calendar month, while some use the term to describe the third new moon in a season of four new moons. The last black moon took place on August 19, 2020. Blood moon: Also known as a total lunar eclipse. It's when the shadow of Earth casts