April's Pink Moon Is Pretty, But Not Really Pink

A passenger plane passes in front of the Full Pink moon as rises over Manhattan in New York City, United States on April 17, 2022.
A passenger plane passes in front of the full pink moon as it rises in the night sky over Manhattan in New York City, April 17, 2022. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Is there anything better than spotting the first buds of flowers pushing up from the ground as the temperature warms and the days grow long with sunny weather followed by bright stars at night?

The spring season may be a predictable astronomical event as Earth orbits around the sun and the full moon rises — but it's a special time of renewal, hope and optimism for the summer months ahead.


Before the advent of global systems of timekeeping and technology, people measured the passage of time with the moon, and especially full moons, among other natural indicators. Some of these nicknames are still used today, including one for the full moon in April, which is called the pink moon.

If you're curious about why April's moon is called the pink moon, read on to discover the reasons — and unfortunately, it's not because our beloved, bright white moon suddenly takes on a rosy hue.


When To See the Full Moon in April 2023

In 2023, the pink moon will occur at 5:34 GMT (1:34 EST) on April 6.

This means that in the Western hemisphere, the moon will reach its full phase in the night sky on April 5 (or very early on the morning of April 6).


How the Pink Moon Got Its Name

Unlike other moon nicknames — such as the wolf moon in January or the hunter moon in October — April's pink moon nickname is a little confusing because, no, the moon doesn't turn pink in April. Also, there are no lunar eclipses (aka blood moons) during April 2023 that would temporarily leave the moon with a red tinge.

Many of the nicknames of each month's full moon come from natural events that occur during that time of year, so where does the "pink" come from?


April's pink moon is so named for a specific spring bloom in New England, Phlox subulata, also commonly called creeping phlox, moss phlox, or — you guessed it — "moss pink."

pink moon
As demonstrated here, the full pink moon, seen rising behind the New York Life Building in Manhattan, April 17, 2022, does not actually have a pink hue to it.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


April's Full Moon Has Many Other Names

In addition to "pink moon," there are other nicknames that April's full moon can go by. Most are inspired by nature and have their origins in the Native American groups that European explorers encountered while traveling across North America.

This first full moon after the spring equinox is also known as the Paschal full moon, which dictates the date of Easter — Sunday, April 9, this year.


Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon

Just as "pink moon" refers to a specific flower blooming, other names for April's full moon reference the onset of spring. The Tlingit people of Alaska and British Columbia referred to it as the "budding moon of plants and shrubs," while the Oglala called it the "moon of the red grass appearing," underscoring how this month shows important signs of vegetative life. 

In other cultures, this April moon is called the sprouting grass moon, the egg moon and the fish moon. The Lakota called it the "moon when the ducks come back" while the Cree people called it the frog moon for the appearance of those amphibians after the long, cold winter.

Additional heralds of spring can be found in the traditional names for April's full moon: The Algonquin people called it the "breaking ice moon," whereas the Dakota people called it the "moon when the streams are again navigable."

Other names for this moon include the budding moon, flower moon and moon of the big leaves, among other names that came from Native American tribes, according to a guide compiled by Washington University.

By any name, the April full moon is a sign of everything we love about spring fast approaching for those in North America.