Wednesday 22 May 2019

Friday's stunning 'Pink Moon' will actually appear orange

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Anthony Cuthbertson

April's full moon has been labelled the Pink Moon but it may not appear in the night sky the same colour that its name suggests.

Named after distinctive spring flowers that appear in April, the Pink Moon will reach its peak on Friday just after midday.

While it won't be possible to see it at this time in Ireland or the UK, the moon will still appear full in the sky on both Thursday and Friday night.

Anyone hoping to see a rose-tinted moon will, however, be more likely to be greeted with a moon that is a pale shade of orange – weather permitting.

Depending on its position in the sky and the stage of its cycle, the moon can vary in colour due to atmospheric effects.

The Blood Moon, for example, appears red in the sky due to something called Raleigh scattering.

This occurs when sunlight passes through the Earth's atmosphere and is the same effect that causes sunsets to appear red.

When Friday's full moon appears above the horizon, Rayleigh scattering will cause the moon to appear orange to observers on the ground. The higher in the sky it rises, the lighter it appears.

The moon also appears larger to terrestrial observers when it is close to the horizon thanks to the "moon illusion".

The reason for this optical illusion is still a matter of debate, though one of the most common theories is that the moon's relative size to buildings, trees and other objects on the horizon makes it appear bigger than when it is high in the sky and surrounded by the vastness of space.

Another celestial event is also set to take place on Thursday, with Asteroid 2019 GC6 set to pass the Earth on Thursday at half the distance to the Moon.

Unfortunately for anyone hoping to spot it, astronomers have described it as trying to spot a lump of coal in the night sky.

Independent News Service

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss

Also in News