Tonight we’ll see the April Full Moon and this is an occurrence that is sometimes called a micro-moon or mini-moon. It probably won’t look any smaller to you, but this smallest full moon of 2016 will be about 30,000 miles (50,000 km) farther away from Earth than the biggest Full Moon (AKA supermoon) of the year.
This comes less than one day after the moon reached lunar apogee, which is the point when the moon is at its farthest point in its monthly orbit. It is hardly a rare occurrence since every year has a closest full moon and a farthest full moon. These mini-moons return about one month and 18 days later with each passing year. That means that for 2017, the year’s smallest full moon will come on June 9.
This Full Moon in the Cherokee marking of the lunar months was called Kawohni, meaning “duck” as in “when the ducks return.” The Dakotah Sioux called this the Moon When Geese Return in Scattered Formation.
The Full Moon also will not look pinkish, but another name for this month’s moon is Full Pink Moon. That name comes from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. In Paradelle, these flowers (which I have always called Mountain Pinks) did bloom right on schedule.
You can also refer to this Full Moon by other American Indian names such as the Full Sprouting Grass Moon – or The Moon When Dandelions My Lawn – and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.
Some tribes called this the Egg Moon and that may sound more appropriate to a year when Easter occurs during April, but the name comes from the appearance of eggs naturally appearing in nests rather than an Easter egg hunt.
A Medieval name for tonight’s Full Moon was the Seed Moon which is fitting if you’re in a climate where it’s early enough to sow seeds outdoors. For me, the sowing is still indoors in flats.
The Roman festival of Cerealia this month celebrated the goddess associated with grains. This was the time to plant that important crop and the goddess Ceres is where we get our word “cereal.”
This might also be the time of the last frost for your region. Some people use blooms in nature as a key to when to plant: when dandelions bloom, plant potatoes; plant peas on Saint Patrick’s Day if the soil isn’t muddy, otherwise wait for the forsythia to bloom.
Similarly, a Celtic name for this moon was the Growing Moon and in the Chinese moon sequence, this is the Peony Moon
The April Moon is also been called the Chaste Moon, Growing Moon, Hare Moon, Maiden Moon, Grass Moon, Rain Moon, Growing Moon, Wind Moon, Seed Moon, Budding Trees Moon and Green Grass Moon.