Is There a Full Moon Tonight? July's Full Buck, Thunder Moon Is the First of Summer—and a Partial Lunar Eclipse

Tomorrow, skywatchers are in for a treat because a full moon is set to light up the night.

The full moon in July—which this year takes place on July 16 at 5:38 p.m. EDT—is referred to as the "Thunder Moon" or sometimes the "Full Buck Moon."

Full moons are an astronomical phenomenon which occur around once a month when the Earth is positioned between the sun and the moon. In this situation, the face of the moon that we can see is fully lit up by our star, appearing like a perfect circle.

While the term "full moon" technically refers to the specific moment when our natural satellite is directly opposite the sun, it will actually appear full to our eyes for around three days—from Monday until Thursday morning, according to NASA's Solar System Exploration blog.

The name "Thunder Moon" derives from the fact that thunderstorms are frequent in July. Meanwhile, the "Buck Moon" refers to the rapid growth of new antlers that male deer, or bucks, experience around this time.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac—a reference book which has been published continuously since 1792—the names originate from Native American groups, namely, the Algonquin tribes from the eastern part of the continent.

For Hindus around the world, this full moon is known as the "Guru Full Moon" which is significant because it marks a tradition called Guru Purnima—a day dedicated to the reverence of spiritual leaders. Also celebrated by Buddhists and Jains, the day is celebrated in the month of Ashadha in the Hindu calendar, which corresponds to June and July in the widely used Gregorian calendar.

Tomorrow's full moon will be the first of summer, although it should be noted that there are actually two different dates for when this season begins.

In astronomical terms, summer in the northern hemisphere begun with the June solstice (June 21) and will end with the fall equinox on September 23.

However, when speaking in meteorological terms, summer begun on June 1 and will end on August 31. In this case, the first full moon of the summer was actually the one which fell on June 17.

The meteorological year is divided up slightly differently to the astrological year, taking into account the months of the calendar and annual temperature cycles.

The July full moon this year will also coincide with a partial lunar eclipse which will be visible from South America, Australia, Africa, most of Europe, and Asia, but unfortunately not North America, according to timeanddate.com

Partial lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes through Earth's shadow (umbra) covering parts of it in darkness. Maximum eclipse is set to take place at 17:30 EDT—at which point around half of the Moon will be obscured by the shadow, appearing black.

full moon
A full moon is pictured above Mainz, southern Germany, on September 26, 2018. DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images
Is There a Full Moon Tonight? July's Full Buck, Thunder Moon Is the First of Summer—and a Partial Lunar Eclipse | Tech & Science