The fourth full moon of the year is almost upon us, and stargazers in the UK will be hoping for clearer weather to spot it after record-breaking rainfall in March.

Shrouded in mystique for millennia, the full moon has inspired everything from horror films and religious festivals to outlandish doomsday conspiracy theories.

In recent years, it has also led to moon names infiltrating pop culture, with April’s full moon dubbed the “Pink Moon” – here’s everything you need to know.

Is the April full moon tonight?

The next full moon reaches its peak in the UK at 5.34am on Thursday 6 April, according to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

These timings mean that the moon will be most clearly visible overnight from 5 April, peaking just before sunrise – here is the full calendar of full moons this year:

  • 6 January (11.07pm)
  • 5 February (6.28pm)
  • 7 March (12.40pm)
  • 6 April (5.34am)
  • 5 May (6.34pm)
  • 4 June (4.41am)
  • 3 July (12.38pm)
  • 1 August (7.31pm)
  • 31 August (2.35am)
  • 29 September (10.57am)
  • 28 October (9.24pm)
  • 27 November (9.16am)
  • 27 December (12.33am)
A plane passes in front of a full moon, known as the worm moon, in Manchester, Britain, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Phil Noble
The full moon has been a source of fascination for millennia (Photo: Reuters)

Why did names like ‘Pink Moon’ become a thing?

April’s full moon has come to be known as the “Pink Moon” in some quarters, as per the American Farmer’s Almanac, which seems to have become the gold standard for such matters.

According to the publication, its name is not a reference to the orb’s colour this month.

Instead, it explains, “the reality is not quite as mystical or awe-inspiring,” adding: “April’s full Moon often corresponded with the early springtime blooms of a certain wildflower native to eastern North America: Phlox subulata—commonly called creeping phlox or moss phlox—which also went by the name “moss pink.

“Thanks to this seasonal association, this full Moon came to be called the ‘Pink’ Moon.”

Moon names like these, and their purported meanings, have gained increased traction in recent years, with the labels generally attributed to Indigenous American tribes.

They appear to have become more popular after the 2014 lunar eclipse – a phenomenon colloquially referred to a “blood moon” due to it causing the moon to have a reddish hue – ignited interest in such romanticised names.

There is no standardised Indigenous American calendar, according to Laura Redish, director and co-founder of Native Languages of the Americas, although Nasa says the names derive from the Algonquin tribe, part of a larger cultural linguistic group called Algonquian.

Some of the popularly used names, such as the “strawberry moon” and “harvest moon”, do seem to be Algonquin, according to a list published by Algonquin Nation Tribal Council in 2005.

Others, such as the “wolf moon,” aren’t – the tribe apparently referred to January as “long moon month”.

According to Ms Redish, different tribes used different calendars, and a range of calendars seem to have been swiped for the popularly used names, while some of the popular monikers are essentially fabrications.

The Farmer’s Almanac says its names “come from a number of places, including Native American, colonial American and European sources”.

By admin