This month’s Full Moon, known as the Buck Moon, starred in a minor penumbral lunar eclipse in the early hours of the morning. This lunar eclipse will this evening be followed by the Moon appearing to be ‘topped’ by the two largest planets in our solar system.
A particularly-bright Jupiter will hover to the Moon’s upper right, while ringed planet Saturn, approximately one-third as bright, will appear to stand off to the Moon’s upper left.
Taken together, this trio will form a triangle in the sky.
To estimate exactly how large this triangle will appear, a clenched handheld at arm’s length measures roughly 10 degrees in width.
The Jupiter-Moon / Saturn-Moon sides will measure approximately four degrees, while Saturn and Jupiter will be separated by six degrees.
Full Moon 2020: This month’s Full Moon, known as the Buck Moon, starred in a penumbral lunar eclipse
Full Moon 2020: A particularly-bright Jupiter will hover to the Moon’s upper right tonight
Why do Full Moons have different names?
The early Native Americans did not record time using months of modern-day calendar.
Tribes instead gave each Full Moon a nickname to keep track of the changing seasons.
Most of the names relate to an activity or an event that took place at the time in each location.
However, this was not a uniform system and tribes tended to name and count moons differently.
Full Moon 2020: The early Native Americans did not record time using months of modern-day calendar
Some, for example, counted four seasons a year while others counted five.
And others defined a year as 12 Moons, while a minority believed there were 13.
Colonial Americans adopted some of the Moon names and applied them to their own calendar system.
This is why they are still in existence today, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
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Remaining Full Moon dates for 2020:
August 3 – Sturgeon Moon: Tribes in North America typically caught Sturgeon around this time.
However, this is also a period when grain and corn were gathered so is sometimes referred to as Grain Moon.
This full moon appears in the same month as the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks between August 12 and 13.
This year, a Black Moon, also known as the third New Moon in a season of four new moons, will also take place on August 19.
Unfortunately, budding astronomers will be unable to see this lunar event as New Moons are invisible to the naked eye.
Full Moon 2020: Colonial Americans adopted some of the Moon names and applied them to their own calendar system
September 2 and October 1 – Full Corn Moon and Harvest Moon: September is traditionally the month when most of the crops were harvested ahead of the autumn.
This Full Moon would provide light to farmers so they could continue working late into the evening.
This was consequently why this is most commonly known as the Harvest Moon.
Some tribes also calling it the Full Corn Moon, Barley Moon or Fruit Moon.
However, the Harvest Moon is the name given to the first Full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumn Equinox.
While the Harvest Moon usually falls in September, around every three years the timings of the astronomical seasons lead to it falling in October instead.
In 2020, the Autumn Equinox falls on September 22, with the closest full moon falling in October.
As a result, September’s Full Moon will be known as the Full Corn Moon.
The first of two full moons taking place in October being named the Harvest Moon.
October 31 – Hunter’s Moon: As people planned ahead for the cold months ahead, October’s Full Moon started to signify the best period to hunt animals for game fattened from eating falling grains.
October’s Full Moon is also known as the Travel Moon and the Dying Grass Moon.
In 2020, the Hunter’s Moon will also be a Blue Moon, because it is the second of two full moons to occur in October.
November 30 – Beaver Moon: Beavers typically start building their winter dams around this time, leading to this Full Moon moniker.
This lunar event is also known as the Frost Moon as winter frosts historically began to take their toll during this time.
December 30 – Cold Moon: Nights are long and dark and winter’s grip tightens, hence this Full Moon’s nickname.
Falling in the festive season, this celestial event also called Moon before Yule and Long Nights Moon.