What Is the Beaver Moon? When, Where and How to Watch the ‘Supermoon’

Over the coming days skygazers, and those of us who might just happen to be out for a stroll in the late evening, will be treated to a larger and brighter moon than usual.

Technically the lunar event that will take place on Friday November 3 and into the following morning is known as a Beaver Moon. According to NASA the moon will be at its fullest at 1:23 a.m. (EST) on November 4.

Related: Ancient Egyptian and Biblical Texts Reveal Oldest Known Solar Eclipse—and Secrets of Ramesses the Great's Rule

The Beaver Moon occurs once a year in November at the point the moon is at its fullest. The full moon, which occurs once every monthly lunar cycle, is when the moon is the brightest in the night’s sky. This happens when the earth is located directly between the sun and the moon in its rotational orbit.

The Beaver Moon is so named because it is the night the moon lights up the sky at the last point before lakes and swamps freeze over before winter, a spokeswoman for Britain’s Metropolitan Weather Office tells Newsweek. This means it is the last chance to set beaver traps before winter and, in the past, the last opportunity to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.

11_3_Supermoon A 'supermoon' rises next to Marseille, on November 14, 2016. This year the Beavermoon will occur on 4 November. BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images

In Europe the event is called a Hunter’s Moon because it marked the time when game, particularly deer, would have fattened and it was time to start hunting to preserve meats for the coming winter months.

According to the NASA the beaver moon can also be know as Frost, Frosty Moon and the Snow Moon, although these names are also used for the last moon of fall, usually in December.

None of these should, however, be confused for the harvest moon, this is the moon that allowed farm hands to collect their crops into the night after the sun had set and occurs in October.   

Astronomical experts are in slight disagreement over whether what will occur in three day’s time on November 6 can be classified as a supermoon. A supermoon specifically refers to the point when the moon is both full and at its perigee, the point where it is closest to the earth.

On November 6 the moon will have already begun to wane but will appear its largest for the month in the night sky. While this is not specifically a supermoon, it is close.

One year ago the Beaver moon missed out on being a supermoon again by just one day but was the largest for 70 years and won’t be surpassed in size until 2034.

Join the Discussion