Some sky sites say September’s full moon appears on the 28th of the month. Others say look for it on the 29th. They are both right. The crest of the full moon is 4:57 a.m. CDT on Sept. 29. But you will see the full moon which is another of this year’s supermoons, at sunset on Sept. 28. I like EarthSky for this information.
Followers of Travel Smart know that full moons have different names. Some relate to the season’s weather or crops while others connect to Native American, Celtic and other cultures.
Not surprisingly, September 2023 is the Harvest Moon because it is the full moon closest to the fall equinox, Sept. 23. It is also called the corn moon.
Unless the weather interfers, it will be easy to see. Its larger than usual size and brightness has to do with its closeness to earth and not anything extra.
If you like finding planets in relations to the moon, look for Saturn an hour earlier. It will be moving through the sky ahead of the full moon. Jupiter will be tagging along after the moon.
August 2023 ends with a “Blue Moon” but it’s not blue.
The month also ends with a “Supermoon” that seems larger than usual. But even though it appears larger, the moon didn’t actually grow.
It also ends with a full moon. And yes, at full illumination it is full. So what is happening?
First, the phrase “once in a blue moon” came about because it is a somewhat rare occurence. It refers to having two full moons in one month. When a month starts out with a full moon it has enough days to complete the moon’s phase cycle with a second full moon as has happened in the 31 days of August 2023. (It can also be a seasonal blue month it is the third full moon in one season).
Time and Date notes that the last Super Blue Moon was December 2009, and the next one is August 2032. Also, that the next Blue Moon is August 2024, but it isn’t a Supermoon.
According to Space, our second August moon will look larger and brighter than other full moons in 2023. It is one of the year’s Supermoons, a moon that is full at the same time its orbit brings it closest to Earth (perigee).
But the second August full moon will be closer to earth than the other Supermoons. The average distance to the moon according to many scientific sites is 238,855 miles.
However, this August moon will be 221.942 miles, Aug. 30 at 9:36 p.m. EDT.
I like the NASA Science site that explains the August Blue Supermoon.
You likely heard the phrase, ‘once in a blue moon.’ It’s about rarity, not color. It’s when one month boasts two full moons. And August 2023 is a prime example.
First, watch for the first full moon, called the Sturgeon Moon, on Aug.1, Peak illumination is 2:32 p.m. Eastern Time, but you should be watching for it after sunset when it’s more visible as it rises in the east.
It is also a Supermoon. Because its orbit brings it close to earth it will appear larger and brighter.
As for its name, it refers to when the Great Lakes’ huge sturgeon are often caught. Menacing looking, it is the North America’s largest fish and is considered prehistoric (136 million years ago) in origin.
For a great Sturgeon exhibit, check out Grand Rapics, MI’s Public Musuem.
The August moon is also called the “Corn” moon by some Native American tribes and many farmers.
Then, look skyward at the end of the month for the second full moon. What we call a “Blue Moon” appears August 30 with peak illumination at 9:36 p.m. ET.
Its appearance late in the month begins the later cycle of monthly full moon dates.
One other full moon note is that the moon will appear full the day before peak illumination and the day after so expect more night lite and picture taking ops.
If you love snapping photos of a full moon, particularly a supermoon, you’ll love this summer season of 2023.
There’s not just one supermoon. There will be four of them lighting up the sky between July 1 and Sept. 28. Yes, there will be what is called a “blue moon.”
As NASA’s Solar System Exploration site explains (NASA capitalizes Earth and Moon when referring to specific planetary orbs), “a supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit, a point known as perigee.”
That point is less than 226,000 miles from earth so its closeness means the moon will look larger than usual. It’s called a ‘supermoon’ if within 90 percent of perigee.
Different scientific organizations and sites use different calculations. The word “supermoon” as known today was first used by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979.
The EarthSky website uses supermoon dates and times determined by astronomer Fred Espenak, who worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Espenak takes in account changes in the moon’s orbit per lunar cycle.
Earth/Sky uses the Astropixels table for the upcoming supermoons:
July 2-3: 224,895 miles (361,934 km), Aug 1: 222,158 miles (357,530 km), Aug 30-31: 222,043 miles (357,344 km), Sept 28-29: 224,658 miles (361,552 km).
As you look at the different distances you see that the second August supermoon is the closest. And you understand that with two full moons in the same month we’re talking about “once in a blue moon” meaning the rarity of two full moons in the same month.
That second full moon now marks the start of a cycle where the moon is full later in a month as opposed to the early monthly dates we saw so far in 2023.
Ready for the July 2023 Supermoon? The Old Farmer’s Almanac calls it the Buck Moon because the male deer’ antlers are in full growth. The bucks shed and regrow antlers producing a larger set each year.
Other July full moon names reference animal and plant changes such as the Salmon Moon, Ripe Corn and Berry Moon.
When to get the camera (phone) ready? The July supermoon is at peak illumination at 7:39 a.m. ET. July 3, the but will look full July 2 and July 4 so you may get an interesting photo during your local fireworks celebration. But try to also get a photo without fireworks lighting up the sky.
Berries are fresh and plentiful in the grocery stores this June. But if you want one to substitute for the cheese associated with moons look for strawberries to accompany the “Strawberry Moon” the first weekend of June.
Look at the eastern horizon when the moon starts to come up. It will look bigger than normal even though it hasn’t changed size because it will appear close to Earth.
And no, it is more likely to look golden due to the Earth’s atmosphere, than strawberry pink.
Among the origins of June’s full moon names are those given it by Native Americans such as the Algonquian, Ojibwe, Dakota, and Lakota tribes, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Other names, such as the Honey and Mead Moon, supposedly come from Europe. Does that translate to honeymoon because June is known as a wedding month? Maybe.
Space gives the time of moon’s full illumination for June 3 and the full moon dates for other 2023 months. But if you look up the nights of June 2 and June 4 you will see what looks like a full moon.
Another site that has good lunar information isTime and Date. It says the moon is now (June 1, 2023) waxing gibbous (as opposed to waning) at 92.5 %, so you know if the weather is clear tonight you will already have a bright night lite even if not completely full.
How to watch the Strawberry June Moon: Nible on strawberries spread across a slice of pound cake and topped with whipped cream.
May 5 is celebrated as a victorious battle day by Mexican communities in the United States. So if in Chicago find a couple of Cinco de Mayo restaurant deals at Dining Out Eating In.
But if wondering why there are “falling stars” overhead or why it’s so bright outside that night, check out the following information.
The Flower Moon
If the sky isn’t particularly cloudy where you live than the evening will seem brighter than usual May 4-6, 2023. May’s full Moon has total illumination in the afternoon of May 5 at 1:36 p.m. EDT but will appear full in the evening of May 4-6. The clue to the name of the May full Moon surrounds us almost everywhere there is a plot of earth.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has the time the moon will be rising above the horizon and setting where you live.
As followers of Travel Smart know by now, the name of a month’s Moon (and yes, it often is referred to the whole month by the same name), often comes from Native American tribes, long ago European farmers and also religions and cultures that base some festivals on lunar events.
May 5-6 is also when to watch for the Eta Aquarids, a meteor shower that typically sends about 50 meteors an hour across the sky. Their parent is 1pHalley which produces two meteor showers during the year.
The May shower is named for a bright star in constellation Eta Aquarli and is the first meteor shower from Comet Halley debris.
Earth passes through Halley’s path around the Sun again in October when its debris is known as the Orionid meteor shower that peaks around October 20.
If it felt as if you left a light on all night Sunday April 2, it’s because our April moon begins to look full even a couple of days ahead of April 5 when it is at full illumination at 11:34 p.m. DCT. It will also appear full a couple of days afterwards.
To catch it for an early evening photo look east after sunset. If still up around midnight, look overhead. A good reference is at EarthSky. Just remember we’re after the equinox so expect sunset later each day.
The April full moon’s nickname is Pink Moon for flowering blooms but it is also called Egg Moon, Paschal and Passover Moon and even the sprouting Grass Moon. For more names and information on full moons visit Space and Solarsystem NASA.
Related: Planet Parade plus Pink Moon.
However, April’s sky watch isn’t over. The Lyrids Meteor Shower is April 15 through April 29 so more on the Lyrids next week.
Assuming your weather is good, you will see a full moon on March 6 even before it reaches full illumination at 6:40 a.m. March 7. But it will appear full even on March 5 and March 8. It is popularly known as the Worm Moon.
What’s is the reasoning behind a full moon name?
Typically, full moons are named for animal behavior at that time of year or for crop seasons or temperature changes. The Worm Moon is the last full moon of the 2023 winter season.
By March the ground should be soft enough for some insects to make their way through the topsoil. That thinking had prompted some Native Americans, Europeans and agriculturists in other cultures to think of the emergences of worms. But there are other thoughts.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, a Captain Jonathan Carver wrote in 1760 that after visiting the Naudowessies and other Native American tribes the March full moon is named the Worm Moon because beetle larvae begin to emerge from the bark of trees at that time of year.
Other Native American names refer to this full moon as the Eagle or Goose Moon, the Sugar Moon for the sap of sugar maples and the Wind Strong Moon, which get head nods from some regions of the U.S this year.
Religions also name full moons according to traditional rites. So, if the March full moon appears before the spring equinox, which in 2023 is March 20, it is known as the Lenten Moon. If after the spring equinox it would have been known as the Paschal Full Moon.
If looking for “falling stars,” check back here for the Lyrids, mid April.
It may be hard to believe our calendar page is about to say February. Given the popular name for February’s full moon, the Snow Moon, and the cold weather forecasted for the end of January, we may want to turn to another name for the month’s full moon, the Groundhog Moon.
Maybe that creature whose appearance sometimes forecasts an early Spring for farmers will bring good news on Feb. 2, this year. That date is just before the moon has full illuminations on Feb. 5 at 12:28 p.m. CT in 2023.
Because it technically becomes full in the afternoon when below the horizon, sky wsatchers might consider it seems quite full Feb. 4 and definitely, Feb. 6.
However, even full it will appear smaller than usual because, as with January’s full moon, February’s is a Micromoon. The opposite of a Supermoon that appears large because its orbit is close to Earth, the Micromoon’s orbit takes it farthest from Earth when full.
Time and Date has an excellent discussion on February full moon names, where the snowiest place is in the US. It quotes Climatologist Brian Brettschneider who says Valdez, Alaska is snowiest incorporated city and that east of the Rockies the area is at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Observatory.
Time and Date also has an excellent explanation of Micromoons.
Besides snow, the Old Farmer’s Almanac says Native American tribes often name the February full moon for animals. I like that some Algonquins call it the Groundhog Moon.
Other tribal names include the Bald Eagle Moon or Eagle Moon named by the Cree and the Bear Moon so named by Ojibwe.