Pink Moon over Annapolis Harbor

June 22, 2021

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Photographer: Cheryl Compton 

Summary Authors: Cheryl Compton; Jim Foster

Shown above is the full pink Moon rising above Annapolis Harbor (Spa Creek), Maryland, on April 26, 2020. The name “pink moon” refers not to our satellite’s particular color during the month of April but to the fact that in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, April is considered the month when most trees and shrubs are in blossom. However, Cheryl timed her shot (top photo) perfectly to capture this pink colored Moon rising in the gloaming.

The bottom photo was taken approximately 10-minutes later than the top photo. As you can see, the pink coloration has been replaced with yellow-orange. The Sun and Moon (and all celestial objects) appear more reddened when they’re low in the sky because the path-length of light is longer at the horizon than it is for objects higher in the sky, even objects slightly above the horizon. Essentially, moonlight must pass through more of the Earth’s atmosphere at the horizon, so the shorter wavelength blue and green colors are extinguished, leaving the longer wavelength oranges and reds (and pinks).

Note that on the top photo the Moon is reclining on a slightly darkened zone; this is the edge of night – the rising Earth’s shadow. The pinkish fringe where the Moon lies is referred to as the Belt of Venus. Unlike the full Moon, the Belt of Venus can be viewed at dawn or dusk, if the sky is clear, on any day of a given month.

Photo details: Canon PowerShot SX740 camera.