Pink Moon, partial lunar eclipse grace skies on Thursday

Thursday evening’s Pink Moon and partial lunar eclipse are creating quite a buzz. Here's the lowdown on why it is called pink and what you can expect to see.

You've heard of a Blue Moon and a Harvest Moon, but what about a Pink Moon?

First and foremost, if you want to see a pink glow in the full moon tonight, you'll need to slip on some rose-colored glasses. The pink in the name is referencing wild phlox, also known as grass pink, an early bloomer in the spring, usually in April.

According to, full moons were originally named by Native American tribes who lived in northern and eastern areas of the United States. Some inland tribes called this particular moon the Full Sprouting Grass Moon or the Egg Moon, while coastal tribes referred to it as the Full Fish Moon, after spawning shad that appeared upstream this time of year.

Lunar eclipse gallery

Click the photo to see the lunar eclipse gallery

In ancient times, seasons were best tracked by the waxing and waning of the full moons, and so special names were given to each lunar month (about 29.5 days long). European settlers followed Native American custom by creating their own names.

Although the fullest point of the full moon will not be visible in the United States (it occurs at 3:58 p.m. EDT), when the moon rises on the eastern horizon at 99.4 percent full, it should still provide a fine view for the amateur skywatcher.

The bonus of tonight's Pink Moon is that it also will be a slight lunar eclipse, with the Earth's shadow just snipping off an edge of the moon's light for its 27-minute journey across the moon's face, according to

This will be the third shortest partial lunar eclipse in this century; however short, it will still be lovely viewing for stargazers in Europe, Africa and most of Asia.

And for anyone looking up at the Pink Moon tonight, Saturn will be glowing spectacularly quite nearby.


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