The April 2012 full moon will be out all night on April 6, shining close to the star Spica and the planet Saturn.
The brilliant lamp of the full moon will light up the nighttime from dusk until dawn. Watch for the moon low in the east at dusk – at its highest point in the sky around midnight – and low in the west before the sun comes up tomorrow.
For the Northern Hemisphere, this is the first full moon of springtime. We in this hemisphere call it the Pink Moon, to celebrate the return of certain wild flowers. Other names are Egg Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, or Easter Moon. In most years, the Christian celebration of Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the Northern Hemisphere spring. So tonight’s Easter Moon heralds the coming of Easter Sunday on April 8, 2012.
In the Southern Hemisphere, this is the first full moon of autumn. It’s the Southern Hemisphere’s Hunter’s Moon – which follows the Harvest Moon, the closest full moon to the autumn equinox – a March event for the Southern Hemisphere. The Harvest Moon and Hunter’s Moon are characterized by their rising times. They rise soon after sunset for several nights in a row, if you live at mid or far southerly latitudes.
Tonight’s full moon shines near the star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo. The other bright light is no star at all but the planet Saturn. The first full moon to follow the March equinox faithfully shines in front of Virgo, the harvest goddess, to signal the change of seasons.
Image: Urania’s Mirror
Tonight’s April full moon – the first full moon of spring – shines close to Spica and Saturn, but you may need binoculars to see these two points of light in the lunar glare.
Full moon: April 6, 2012, at 2:19 p.m. Central Daylight Time (By Universal Time: April 6, 2012, at 19:19)