Like pink? My daughters sure do. Each still has a pair of sweat pants with the word LOVE PINK emblazoned across the rear. Full moons wear pink too thanks to vapor and dust in the atmosphere around the time of moonrise.
Tonight’s full moon is named the Pink Moon – nothing to do with suggestive clothing but a reference instead to moss pink or phlox, one of spring’s early wildflowers. Since full moons are directly opposite the sun, they rise in the east about the same time the sun sets in the west. For Duluth, Minn. the big moment is 8:06 p.m. tonight. Click HERE to find the time of moonrise for your town.
Once the sky darkens, you’ll see the moon has two companions in tow. Virgo’s brightest star Spica sparkles just two degrees to its left (east); five degrees farther to the east you’ll bump into the planet Saturn. Splendid company.
The moon never stops moving as it orbits the Earth, traveling eastward (to the left as you face south) at the rate of about 12 degrees per day or one fist held at arm’s length against the sky. We experience the moon’s orbital motion as hour-later moonrise times with each passing night. Tonight however, you can watch the moon’s motion in a matter of hours with nothing more than your naked eye by noting its position relative to Spica.
Early this evening the moon will form a nearly straight line with Spica and Saturn for sky watchers in the eastern half of the U.S.
By midnight, that line will be bent downward, and if you stay up into the wee hours, the moon’s shift with respect to Spica will be obvious.
When you make your observation, keep in mind that all three objects will change orientation as a group with respect to the horizon as they travel from east to west during the night because of Earth’s rotation. To notice the moon’s movement, ignore that and compare its position only in relation to Spica and Saturn.
Whether pink, orange, white or blue, I hope your face will reflect a little moonlight tonight.