EarthSky // Astronomy Essentials, Science Wire    

Release Date: Jan 23, 2016

For both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the full moons have names corresponding to the calendar months or the seasons of the year

Some almanacs like to give each month a special full moon name. Other almanacs like to reference full moons relative to seasonal markers, as defined by equinoxes and solstices. Is one way better than the other? No. Both have their roots in folklore. Of course, both the monthly names and the seasonal names necessarily favor either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. That’s because the moon has different characteristics in the two hemispheres, at opposite times of the year. For example, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. So it falls in September or October for the Northern Hemisphere, and it falls in March or April for the Southern Hemisphere.

Full moon setting. Photo credit-Carl Galloway

Northern Hemisphere full moon names by month:

January: Old Moon, Moon After Yule

February: Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon

March: Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Lenten Moon

April: Grass Moon, Egg Moon

May: Planting Moon, Milk Moon

June: Rose Moon, Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon

July: Thunder Moon, Hay Moon

August: Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon

September: Fruit Moon, Harvest Moon

October: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon

November: Hunter’s Moon, Frosty Moon, or Beaver Moon

December: Moon Before Yule, or Long Night Moon

Southern Hemisphere full moon names by month:

January: Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Mead Moon

February (mid-summer): Grain Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Wyrt Moon, Corn Moon, Dog Moon, Barley Moon

March: Harvest Moon, Corn Moon

April: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon

May: Hunter’s Moon, Beaver Moon, Frost Moon

June: Oak Moon, Cold Moon, Long Night’s Moon

July: Wolf Moon, Old Moon, Ice Moon

August: Snow Moon, Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon

September: Worm Moon, Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, Sap Moon

October: Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, Pink Moon, Waking Moon

November: Corn Moon, Milk Moon, Flower Moon, Hare Moon

December: Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon, Rose Moon

***About once every 19 years, February has no full moon at all.***

Moreover, in 7 out of every 19 years, two full moons will fall in the same calendar month. The second of the month’s two full moons is popularly referred to as a Blue Moon.

Full moon names by season (Northern or Southern Hemisphere):

After the winter solstice:

Old Moon, or Moon After Yule

Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, or Wolf Moon

Sap Moon, Crow Moon or Lenten Moon

After the spring equinox:

Grass Moon, or Egg Moon

Planting Moon, or Milk Moon

Rose Moon, Flower Moon, or Strawberry Moon

After the summer solstice:

Thunder Moon, or Hay Moon

Green Corn Moon, or Grain Moon

Fruit Moon, or Harvest Moon

After the autumnal equinox:

Harvest Moon, or Hunter’s Moon

Hunter’s Moon, Frosty Moon, or Beaver Moon

Moon Before Yule, or Long Night Moon

There are usually three full moons in between an equinox and a solstice, or vice versa. Seven times in 19 years, four full moons fall in a single season. In that case, the third of a season’s four full moons is also called a Blue Moon. The next Blue Moon by this definition will happen on May 21, 2016.

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