Astronaut Terry Virts took this image of the full moon setting from the ISS.
Credit: NASA/Terry Virts
Full moons in 2016
Full moon names date back to Native Americans. Some tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. This is when full moons will occur in 2016, according to NASA:
Date Name U.S. East UTC
Jan. 23 Wolf Moon 8:46 p.m. 01:46 (1/24)
Feb. 22 Snow Moon 1:20 p.m. 18:20
Mar. 23 Worm Moon 8:01 a.m. 12:01
Apr. 22 Pink Moon 1:24 a.m. 05:24
May 21 Flower Moon 5:15 p.m. 21:15
June 20 Strawberry Moon 7:02 a.m. 11:02
July 19 Buck Moon 6:57 p.m. 22:57
Aug. 18 Sturgeon Moon 5:27 a.m. 09:27
Sept. 16 Harvest Moon 3:05 p.m. 19:05
Oct. 16 Hunter’s Moon 12:23 a.m. 04:23
Nov. 14 Beaver Moon 8:52 a.m. 13:52
Dec. 13 Cold Moon 7:05 p.m. 00:05 (12/14)
Tim Sharp, Reference Editor
Full Moon Names and Meanings
While most full moons of the year look similar, they each have unique names. Full moon names date back to Native Americans, living in what is now the northern and eastern United States. Those tribes of a few hundred years ago kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There were some variations in the moon names, but in general, the same ones were used among the Algonquin tribes from New England on west to Lake Superior. European settlers followed their own customs and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is roughly 29.5 days in length on average, the dates of the full moon shift from year to year
Wolf Moon — Amid the freezing cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. It was also known as the Old Moon or the “Moon after Yule.” In some tribes, this was the Full Snow Moon, however, most applied that name to the next moon.
Snow Moon — Usually the heaviest snows fall in this month each year. Hunting becomes very difficult, and hence to some tribes this was the Full Hunger Moon.
Worm Moon — In this month, the ground softens and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation.
Pink Moon —The wild ground phlox is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this moon were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon and — among coastal tribes — the Full Fish Moon, when the shad came upstream to spawn.
Flower Moon — Flowers are abundant everywhere in May. It was also known as the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.
Strawberry Moon — Europeans called it the Rose Moon.
Buck Moon — In July, the new antlers of buck deer push out from their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, thunderstorms being now most frequent. Sometimes it is also called the Full Hay Moon.
Blue Moon — The second full moon occurring within a calendar month is usually given this title. Although the name suggests that to have two full moons in a single month is a rather rare occurrence, it actually occurs once about every three years on average.
Sturgeon Moon —In August, the large sturgeon of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water like Lake Champlain is most readily caught. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because the moon rises looking reddish through sultry haze. Other names are the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.
Harvest Moon —The Full Harvest Moon is always the full moon occurring nearest to the Autumnal Equinox. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and wild rice — the chief Indian staples — are now ready for gathering.
Hunter’s Moon — With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble, and can more easily see the fox as well as the other animals that have come out to glean — all of which can be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest.
Beaver Moon — Time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Full Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now active in their preparation for winter. It is also called the Frosty Moon.
Cold Moon — Among some tribes, this moon was called the Full Long Nights Moon. In this month, the winter cold fastens its grip, and the nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the “Moon before Yule” (Yule is Christmas, and this time the Moon is only just before it). The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long and the moon is above the horizon a long time. The midwinter full moon takes a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite to the low sun.
By Joe Rao, SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist | January 15, 2015 07:27am ET – See more at: http://www.space.com/28251-full-moon-names-2015.html#sthash.6AomRFRH.dpuf