Full Buck Moon: Meaning Behind July's Supermoon

The full moon in July is popularly referred to as the "Buck Moon"—but where does this name come from?

In North America, the traditional names given to the full moons originate from a number of places and historical periods, including Native American, colonial American and European sources.

Many of them, for example, are English interpretations of words used in Native American languages.

In the case of the Native American names, each one was traditionally applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, rather than to just the full moon itself.

The full moon in July is often referred to as the "Buck Moon"—a name that refers to the fact that as summer peaks, the velvety antlers of male deer, which generally first appear in early spring, tend to finish growing, forming pointed tips and hardening. The bucks will subsequently shed their antlers before regrowing them again.

The July full moon is also sometimes referred to as the "Hay Moon" because at this time of year, farmers traditionally cut and cured hay to store for winter feed. Another name is the "Thunder Moon"—a reference to the frequent thunderstorms that occur in North America in July.

A supermoon above the Statue of Liberty
The full moon in July is often referred to as the "Buck Moon"—a name that refers to the fact that as summer peaks, the velvety antlers of male deer tend to finish growing, forming pointed tips and hardening. Above, a supermoon rises behind the Statue of Liberty in New York City on May 7, 2020, as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Other traditional names for the July full moon include the Feather Moulting Moon, Salmon Moon, Berry Moon, Moon When the Chokecherries are Ripe, Month of the Ripe Corn Moon and Raspberry Moon, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Full moons are a lunar phase that occurs roughly once every month when the moon is located opposite the sun in space, with the Earth in between. At these moments, the moon is fully illuminated by the sun, appearing like a perfect circle in the sky.

In 2022, the full Buck Moon will appear in the night sky on Wednesday, July 13. Technically, the moon only turns completely full for a moment, which on this date will occur at 2:38 p.m. ET, or 11:38 a.m. PT.

For observers in North America, the moon will be below the horizon at the moment of peak illumination. Like all full moons, it will only become visible after sunset in your location.

July's full moon can be described as a "supermoon." This is a nonscientific term popularly used to describe a full moon that is close to its perigee—the point in our natural satellite's orbit when it is closest to Earth.

The reason we have supermoons is because the moon's orbit around the Earth is actually elliptical, or oval-shaped, rather than perfectly circular, meaning the distance between the two bodies varies over time.

The supermoon on July 13 will actually be the biggest and brightest of the year because the moon will be particularly close to Earth on this date. Nevertheless, the difference between a regular full moon and a supermoon can often be hard to tell.