For hundreds of years, humanity has looked toward the moon for answers. 

It controlled how we planted our crops and how the ocean’s tides rise and fall, all while acting as a useful tool to keep time. 

Once every 28 days, the moon completes its cycle of waxing and waning, giving skywatchers a full moon and a new moon monthly. While new moons allow for darker skies and improved viewing of dimmer objects, full moons are easier to see and can appear brightly, with interesting colors. 

Perhaps you noticed a bright pink moon a few weeks ago, and perhaps that led you to wonder why that happens. 

The full moon in April was nicknamed the pink moon by Native Americans long ago because the bright pink flowers of the Creeping Flox plant are in bloom during this month.  

While it appears beautifully, the bright pink color is caused by a big issue; air quality. When a pink moon is visible, the moon or moonlight is not actually pink, but the air is full of ash particles from wildfires and smog, causing the atmosphere to have a reddish filter. 

Another celestial event that commonly causes the red color is a lunar eclipse, when the earth moves between the moon and sun. Lunar eclipses are somewhat common, and the next total lunar eclipse visible in North America will occur in March 2025.  

There are actually names for the full moon each month, including the Harvest moon (which occurs in the month of the autumnal equinox) and the Wolf Moon, occurring in January. The name of June’s full moon is the strawberry moon, so be on the lookout!

Georgia Howard is a student at Charlotte Latin School.


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