Is There a "Full Pink Moon" in April?

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Full Pink Moon

Full Pink Moon
Franco Origlia/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Description: Viral posts
Circulating since: March 2014
Status: True, but...

2016 Update: A "Full Pink Moon" will occur on April 22, 2016. Unlike the previous two years, it does not coincide with a lunar eclipse.

2015 Update: A "Full Pink Moon" occurred on April 4, 2015, coinciding for the second year in a row with a total lunar eclipse (aka "Blood Moon," see explanation below).

Analysis: According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, "Full Pink Moon" is indeed one of the traditional Native American names for any full moon that occurs in April. Early Native Americans didn't use calendars (in the European sense of the world), relying instead on observations of seasonal changes, phases of the moon and such to mark the passage of time through the course of the year. Giving these celestial events names and associating them with imagery made it easier to remember and keep track of them.

January was known as the "Full Wolf Moon" by the Algonquin tribes of what is now New England, according to the almanac. February was the "Full Snow Moon." March was the "Full Worm Moon." May was the "Full Flower Moon," and so on.

Not literally pink

Lest there be any confusion, "Full Pink Moon" does not refer to a full moon that is literally pink in color (no more than a "Blue Moon" refers to a full moon that actually looks blue). It was inspired, the almanac says, by the springtime bloom of the moss pink flower (Phlox subulata), commonly found in the central and eastern United States.

Blood moon

Coincidentally, a total lunar eclipse also occurred during the full moons of April 15, 2014 and April 4, 2015, which meant that for some observers the moon actually took on a dull red or rusty hue as the earth's shadow passed across its face (which is why a total lunar eclipse is sometimes referred to as a "Blood Moon"). So, while we wouldn't normally expect a Pink Moon to look different from any other full moon, color-wise, for two years in a row the occurrence promised to deliver a special treat for the eye — not exactly a bright pink glow, mind you, but almost!

The Pink Moons of 2014 and 2015 also coincided with what is known as the "Paschal Full Moon,"  defined in Christian ecclesiastical tradition as the first full moon after March 20, or the vernal equinox. Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon. 

Sources and further reading:

Pink Moon: April Full Moon Phases
Old Farmer's Almanac, 2014

Native American Full Moon Names
Old Farmer's Almanac, 2014

American Indian Moons
Western Washington University Planetarium

Total Eclipse of the Moon: April 15, 2014
MrEclipse.com, 17 March 2014

What Is the Paschal Full Moon?
About.com: Christianity

Watch the Moon Turn Red
About.com: Space & Astronomy, 11 April 2014

What Is a Blood Moon?
EarthSky, 30 March 2014

Lunar Folklore - Myths & Legends of the Moon
About.com: Paganism / Wicca

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Full Pink Moon 2014

Full Pink Moon - April 15 2014
Netlore Archive: Social media postings make much of a "Full Pink Moon" coinciding with a total lunar eclipse on April 15, 2014. Facebook.com

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Full Pink Moon 2015

Full Pink Moon 2015
Netlore Archive: A Full Pink Moon occurred on April 4, 2015. Facebook.com