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).


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.

A Moonflower for August

The Moon becomes full tomorrow, August 22, 2021, at 8:02 AM ET. The most common name seems to be the Sturgeon Moon, though most people don’t fish for sturgeon or even know anything about this fish.  The fishing tribes went after this large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water when they were most readily caught during this month.

A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. Other names include the Fruit Moon, Grain Moon, and the Green Corn Moon.


I saw some moonflowers the other night on an evening walk. They were growing on a fence and in the almost-full moonlight, they glowed like moons themselves.

The plan, Ipomoea alba, is sometimes called the tropical white morning-glory or moonflower or moon vine. It is a species of night-blooming morning glory.

Night-blooming flowers have always intrigued me. When I was a boy, my mother had a section of the garden with Evening Primrose that opened in the evening. It seemed so odd that they bloomed when the Sun was gone that, as a child, I thought they must somehow be connected to the Moon. Evening primrose is yellow and doesn’t look at all like the Moon. Nowadays, you can buy evening primrose oil which has naturally-occurring Omega-6 Fatty Acid GLA (Gamma-Linolenic Acid).

I have grown the moonflower morning glory variety. It is a morning glory if you think of those early hours after midnight as the morning, though most people think of it as night. You can buy the seeds and plant them as an annual where I live but they are native to tropical and subtropical regions of North and South America (Argentina to northern Mexico) and in Florida and the West Indies.

moon flower
Children would love the big white flowers in the night and the idea that they are somehow connected to the Full Moon.

I don’t know that the flowers have any medicinal or magical properties, but the big flowers opening at night certainly seem magical to kids – and adults who still have a sense of wonder in them.

For the soundtrack here, I choose Moonflower, a double album of live and studio tracks released in 1977 by Santana. The title track is “Flor d’Luna (Moonflower),” one of the studio tracks.


The Wort Full Moon of August

full moon and clouds

The Full Moon is early this month. It’s tonight, August 3, 2020. In this pandemic summer when days and weeks seem to blur together, the Moon and planets continue their movements unabated.

According to earthsky.org, as darkness falls in early August 2020,  Jupiter and the ringed planet Saturn will be the brightest objects near the Moon. Both Jupiter and Saturn reached opposition (when Earth flew between these worlds and the Sun) and so are at their brightest for the year right now. Though the full or near full Moon at this time will wash out many stars from our view, Jupiter and Saturn are easily bright enough to withstand the Moon’s glare.

Be careful during the Full Moon – it is said that clothes washed for the first time in the full Moon will not last long.  But babies born a day after the full Moon enjoy success and endurance. Happy birthday to all you new babies born on August 4, 2020.

The New Moon for this month arrives on August 18 and according to folklore about the Moon phases, if you glimpse the new Moon over your right shoulder, you will have good luck. Starting a new project during the new Moon will help it prosper.

The most common Full Moon name for August is the Sturgeon Moon which is a name that comes from the Algonquin tribes who lived from New England to Lake Superior. Colonial Americans tended to adapt their names as they had interactions with the tribes (in both positive and negative ways).  Native Americans went after these big fish which were found from the Delaware Bay to the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. This was the best time to catch them.

If there are no sturgeon near your home (which I’m assuming is true for most of you) then maybe another natural world observation might better apply. How about this being the Green, Corn Moon, Wheat Cut Moon, Moon When All Things Ripen, Red Moon, Barley Moon, Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon, Herb Moon, Dog Days Moon or Blueberry Moon?

Bloodwort or Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Another less-common name for this month’s Moon is the Wyrt or Wort Moon. The words wyrt and wort are not in common usage these days. “Wyrt” is an old Gaelic term for herbs used to flavor foods. The time of the August Full Moon is an optimal time to collect many herbs. I know that in Wiccan groups this is a time to work with herbs in a magickal or healing capacity. This is also the beginning of many harvesting events, including Lammas.

The Old English word wyrt has Proto-Indo-European origins that connect it to root. and the wort version has been attached to many herbs and plants that had medicinal uses. There is a long list of wort plants. but you would have to really be into plants to know most of them.

Bloodwort (AKA bloodroot ) has a juice that can be poisonous but it was used historically by Native Americans for curative properties as an emetic and respiratory aid.

Brotherwort (Thymus serpyllum) is now better known as wild thyme. It is a fragrant flowering plant in the mint family Lamiaceae.

Brotherwort (AKA wild thyme)

Is it really hot where you are now and you need a break? Imagine you are in the Southern Hemisphere where this Full Moon can be called the Snow Moon.

August Moon When All Things Ripen

rosy moon of summer

This morning (August 15, 8:31 A.M.  here), the Moon went full. It was so close to being full earlier in the week that it made it more difficult to see any of the Perseid meteor showers.

The most common name for this August Full Moon is the Sturgeon Moon. But I suspect that for the vast majority of Americans the sturgeon or even fishing is not a big part of their life this month. The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month.

Because I pay attention to threatened and endangered species, I want to note that all five U.S. Atlantic sturgeon distinct population segments are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. These populations are threatened by entanglement in fishing gear, habitat degradation, and habitat impediments such as dams and other barriers and vessel strikes.

Sturgeon – fisheries.NOAA.gov photo

In many cultures, the Full Moon names were actually applied to the entire month that followed. The Farmer’s Almanac has a list of Full Moon names with brief descriptions.

In Colonial America, the Europeans may have called this the Dog’s Day Moon.

Among the American Indian tribes, there were many variations in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were used among the Algonquin tribes from New England west to Lake Superior. In the book This Day in North American Indian History the author looks at events, including Full Moon names, going back to the construction of Mayan temples in A.D. 715 to modern political activism and governmental legislation. It has 50+ native peoples.

I chose the Dakotah Sioux name Moon When All Things Ripen. The Cherokee called this the Fruit Moon.

The Klamath people are a Native American tribe of the Plateau culture area in Southern Oregon and Northern California, centered around the area of the Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath, Williamson, and Sprague rivers. They subsisted primarily on fish and gathered roots, berries, and seeds.

Different tribes started the year at different times. For example, the Juaneno people started the year with the winter solstice.  The Klamath people started the year with today’s Full Moon. They marked the months/moons on their fingers, so this moon was marked on the thumb and was called the Moon When Berries Dried.

This is the Celtic Dispute Moon, and it is the Neo-Pagan Lightning Moon.

If you’re feeling the heat and humidity where you are today, here’s a cooling thought: In the Southern Hemisphere, the August Full Moon is often called the Snow Moon. That’s a name we use in the North in January or February.