The Chrysanthemum Moon of September

Most of the time, what we see as a Full Moon isn’t perfectly full. We always see the same side of the moon, but part of it is in shadow, due to the Moon’s rotation. Only when the Moon, Earth and the sun are perfectly aligned is the moon 100% full. That rarer alignment produces a lunar eclipse.

The September 10, 2022 Full Moon is often called the Harvest Moon (an Anglo-Saxon name) and it is fullest at 5:59 a.m. EDT. Technically, the Full Moon known as the Harvest Moon is the one closest to the September equinox around September 22. The Harvest Moon is the only Full Moon name determined by the equinox rather than by a calendar month. In most years, it is in September, but around every three years, it falls in October.

Actual crop harvests, such as corn, have nothing to do with Full Moon names though. The name Corn Moon is the version of harvest that a number of Native American tribes called this month’s Moon. The Celtic and Old English names include two harvest names – Wine Moon and Barley Moon – and also Song Moon.

The September Full Moon is sometimes called the Chinese Chrysanthemum Moon and it coincides with the Mid-Autumn Festival – also known as the Moon Festival. As with the British Midsummer Eve, September 10 is not mid-autumn in America as the autumn equinox won’t even arrive until the 22nd. But in my part of the U.S., this is when you start to see chrysanthemums blooming both in the ground and appearing at stores. They are often in autumn colors and used as decorations. Florist mums are not hardy in Paradelle, so even if you plant them, they will not make it through the winter, so we most commonly see them in pots or transplanted for the season around homes. I have associated mums with autumn since my childhood as our garden had a row of them in orange, bronze, red, purple, white, and yellow.

Mums at the garden center

A Flying Up Full Moon of August

The Full Moon for this month will be on August 11. To be precise the Moon goes officially 100% full at 9:36 p.m. ET. (That’s 01:36 GMT on August 12.) But if I have a clear night in my neighborhood, I’ll walk outside and look up at it when I have the chance.

You usually hear this August Full Moon called the Sturgeon Moon, but that really only applied to places like the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain where this big fish was easiest to catch at this point in summer.

Sturgeon are very strange prehistoric-looking fish and rightly so as they have been traced back to around 136 million years ago.

Secretary bird leaves treetop nest.Secretary bird leaving nest  – via Flickr

This year I chose the Flying Up Moon, a Cree term for the Full Moon that was used to mark this time when young birds seemed to be ready to leave the nest – the Flying Up Moon.

But those fish are pretty interesting. The word “sturgeon” means “stirrer,” and that is what this giant fish does to the muddy river and lake bottoms as it looks for food. The females require around 20 years to start reproducing, and they can only reproduce every 4 years – but they can live up to 150 years. They are not exactly the same as in prehistoric times when they were the size of bass. There are more than 20 species and some can get to be the size of a small car (about 10 feet).

sturgeon

I saw a sturgeon once in my home state of New Jersey in the Delaware River. That is the habitat of New Jersey’s only endangered fish species. It was a shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) and big, but not compact car big. The ones in NJ were fished almost to extinction in the past centuries because caviar is made from the roe (eggs) of different breeds of sturgeon.

A more likely Native American name for this month in the land of Paradelle would be Corn Moon which was used by the Algonquin and Ojibwe. Depending on what tribes were in your part of America the name might have been Harvest Moon (Dakota), Ricing Moon (Anishinaabe), while the Assiniboine people named this period Black Cherries Moon, referring to when chokecherries become ripe.


The Hungry Ghost Full Moon of July

The moon was but a chin of gold
A night or two ago,
And now she turns her perfect face
Upon the world below

– Emily Dickinson

July 2022’s Full Moon will rise on Wednesday, July 13, reaching peak illumination at 2:38 P.M. Eastern Time. Of course, it will be below the horizon then, so look to the southeast after sunset to watch it rise. It probably looks quite full already tonight.

In Chinese traditions, this is the time of the Hungry Ghost Moon. It was a time when spirits could move freely from this world into the Otherworld or the Eternal world. This is the time when the veil separating the worlds was “thin.” Though we often think of ghosts are frightening things, the Chinese believed that some spirits would return to where they were happiest. That makes this a time when you might see or feel the presence of ancestors, loved ones, and friends who have passed on.

It is also a time when mischievous spirits can make trouble and people can be more susceptible to bad energy from the spirit world. That aspect makes it similar to the ancient Irish observation of Samhain which was a feast marking the beginning of the Irish Winter. It is also celebrated on October 31st as Halloween in North America.

This month’s Moon is usually called the Buck Moon because the antlers of male deer (bucks) are in full-growth mode at this time. Bucks shed and regrow their antlers each year, producing a larger and more impressive set as the years go by.

Deer aren’t the only animals that figure into the Full Moon at this time of year. Feather Moulting Moon was used by the Cree in our July or sometimes in August, and Salmon Moon was used by the Tlingit people since this was when those fish returned to the area and were caught in large numbers.

Yes, this Full Moon orbits closer to Earth than any other full Moon this year, so it is the biggest and brightest supermoon of the year. I just don’t get very excited about the “supermoon” label since the Moon doesn’t really look bigger to us. Technically it is bigger and brighter than a regular Full Moon, but at 7% larger it is pretty much imperceptible to the human eye.

The Southern Hemisphere is marking a Wolf Moon, Old Moon, or Ice Moon. How strange that still seems to me.

The Birth Moon

Murphy’s Law of Full Moons is that when there is a Full Moon there will be clouds over my head.

Look towards the southeast on Tuesday to watch the Full Moon rise above the horizon. This Full Moon will reach peak illumination at 7:52 A.M. Eastern Time. It will appear large and, yes, this is a “supermoon” – a term I find rather overrated. The Moon will be at one of its closest points to Earth all year so it will appear somewhat larger. Most people won’t notice the difference but just in case you want to compare its closest point will be at 7:21 p.m. Eastern Time.

Strawberry Moon is the most common name for the June Full Moon. It’s a bit unusual that the name was used by colonists and also by tribes such as the Algonquin, Ojibwe, Dakota, and Lakota. Mid-June is a time for ripening ”June-bearing” strawberries (there are others that produce in other months. The Haida used the broader name Berries Ripen Moon which probably covers other types of berries too.

I have also written in the past about this as the Mead Moon and Honey Moon. The name “Honey Moon” suggests a connection to marriage “honeymoons” and there are traditionally a lot of weddings in June. But the term honeymoon comes from the idea that “the first month of marriage is the sweetest” and just combines honey (sweet) and moon (a calendar month). Then again, the month of June is named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.

The Tlingit people have used the name Birth Moon which refers to this being a time when some animals are born in their part of the Pacific Northwest. Geography certainly plays a role in Full Moon names. The Cree called this the Egg Laying Moon and Hatching Moon which also refers to a time of animal births.

An Eclipsing Full Moon for May 16, 2022

Photo by George Desipris – Pexels

A lunar eclipse is set to occur on May 15 and 16 and it will be a Supermoon and it will likely have a bit of a reddish color (“Blood Moon”. Supermoons are Full Moon that seems to be bigger than usual. The red comes from particles in the Earth’s atmosphere changing the color of the reflected light.

According to NASA, the eastern half of the United States and all of South America will have the opportunity to see every stage of the lunar eclipse. Totality will be visible in much of Africa, western Europe, Central and South America, and most of North America. A second lunar eclipse will take place on November 8.

Some info on all that is at space.com

All that makes calling this month’s Full Moon the “Flower Moon” or any of its other names seem rather anti-climatic. Common names for the May Full Moon are the Flower Moon and Planting Moon. Some less common but more interesting names and stories from past years on this site include: the Buddha Full Moon, Corn Planting Moon, Hare Moon, Moon When Frogs Return, Blue Moon and Day for Night, Milk Moon, Grass Moon, and another eclipsing Moon in the Shadow.

Full Moon Before the Equinox

moon

The Full Moon was rising last night but reached peak illumination at 3:20 A.M. EDT today. This Full Moon is often called the Worm Moon because worms sometimes emerge from wintering underground at this time. But, as with many Full Moon names, it all depends on where you live and the weather. Here in Paradelle, we have had some warm 60-70 degree days but we still have lots of nights near the freezing mark. I have seen robins in the backyard but I haven’t seen them nabbing any worms yet.

There is no special name for the Full Moon nearest to the spring equinox. Coincidentally, in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the Harvest Moon and that name in the Northern Hemisphere is given to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox.

The spring equinox is on March 20, two days after the Full Moon. That means that Easter (a moveable feast) falls after the next full Moon, which is the Pink Moon on April 16 and the next day is Easter Sunday 2022.

The bright Moon decreases the number of visible stars, but you can see in the early evening night sky the very bright Venus and below it are Mars and Saturn in the pre-dawn eastern sky, and Jupiter is just above the horizon close to sunrise.

The weekend finishes with an equinox which is not a viewable event, but it is an important marker in the Earth’s solar journey.