If you were up early Tuesday morning, you might have noticed the moon setting in the southwestern sky. Generally, there is one full moon each month, and this month it’s the full pink moon.
High clouds combined with the sunrise this morning to actually give the moon a pinkish hue, but that’s not the reason it’s called the “pink” moon. (Check out this picture I took Tuesday morning, and you will be able to make out the disc of the moon in the western sky.)
In fact, Native Americans gave the full moons, which occur each month, different names. The pink moon’s name is derived from a spring flower known as “moss pink” or “wild ground phlox.” There are other names for the April full moon as well, such as the Sprouting Grass Full Moon, The Fish Moon, and even the Egg Moon. All those names actually make a lot of sense when you think about the time of year and what people observed or were doing back in the day.
This month’s full moon gives a great opportunity to combine horticulture and astronomy. Phlox subulata or moss phlox can be found at many garden centers. If you plant it this year, it should thrive for a very long time and bloom each year around the full pink moon. It will grow in sun or part shade, but it doesn’t flower as well in full shade.
If you don’t feel like digging in the soil, but just want to see the moon, it will rise at 7:51 p.m. Tuesday in Boston. It will be about this time everywhere, give or take a few minutes. Look to the eastern/southeastern sky and try to find a place without any obstructions. Any east-facing beach is ideal — or a hilltop with a view of the horizon.
Some high clouds may cause the moon to look pink again Tuesday evening. But now you’ll know that’s just a coincidence.
You can follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @growingwisdom