Tech & Science

Harvest Moon 2018: Where Do Full Moons Get Their Names?

9_21_Full Moon
Stock image: Birds fly in front of a full moon. Getty Images

Don’t miss Monday’s Harvest Moon—the first full moon of fall. These beautiful astronomical events have inspired music, art and poetry throughout history. But where did they get their romantic-sounding names?

Although they may seem whimsical, common U.S. full moon names have very practical roots, reflecting important seasonal markers—from the blooming flowers of spring to winter's hungry howls of wolves.

Many traditional moon names were assumed by colonial Americans from Native American tribes, The Old Farmer’s Almanac reports. Some also have roots in Europe.

The Full Harvest Moon, for example, recognizes autumn’s traditional crop harvest. The bright moonlight allowed farmers to continue gathering their produce into the evening. It’s probably the best-known full moon name of all.

This year the “harvest” crown falls to the September full moon—otherwise known as the Full Corn Moon—as it will be the closest full moon to Saturday’s fall equinox. Sometimes, when the equinox takes place a little later in the year, October’s full moon stands in as Harvest Moon.

This upcoming Harvest Moon will rise at 7.01 p.m. ET and set at 6.02 a.m. ET in New York, according to Timeanddate.com. Over in Los Angeles, it will rise at 6.59 p.m. PT and set at 6.11 a.m. PT.

The traditional names given to the moon by the Algonquin tribes and others—as collected by The Almanac—are as follows:

January’s full moon is often called the Full Wolf Moon, named for the animals howling in the midst of a hungry winter. The moon is sometimes also called the Ice Moon, Old Moon or Snow Moon.

9_21_Wolves Stock image: Wolves gather amongst trees. Getty Images

February’s full moon is more commonly known as the Full Snow Moon—named, unsurprisingly, for the wintery weather. It’s also been called the Hunger Moon, the Storm Moon and the Chaste Moon.

March’s full moon is also sometimes called the Chaste Moon, but it’s mostly known as the Full Worm Moon, after the little pink creatures that begin poking their heads from the soil at the end of winter. As well as the Crow Moon, Sugar Moon and Lenten Moon, it’s also sometimes called the Crust Moon or the Sap Moon.

The full moon in April is known as the Full Pink Moon for the buds of phlox—small pink flowers—that bloom toward the start of spring. It’s also sometimes called the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon or the Fish Moon.

Continuing this theme, May ushers in the Full Flower Moon, reflecting the flourishing plants of spring. The moon is also known as Mother’s Moon, Corn Planting Moon and Milk Moon.

9_21_Phlox Stock image: Phlox blossoms. Getty Images

June’s full moon is known as the Full Strawberry Moon, as this is when Algonquin tribes would pick the sweet red fruit. It’s also known as the Mead Moon, Honey Moon and the Rose Moon.

July’s Full Buck Moon recognizes the growth of a buck’s antlers. It’s also sometimes called the Thunder Moon, because of the month’s often stormy weather.

Easy access to certain fish in Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes gave the August full moon its nickname: the Full Sturgeon Moon. It’s also known by certain tribes as the Full Green Corn Moon, the Wheat Cut Moon, the Blueberry Moon and the Moon When All Things Ripen.

9_21_Strawberries Stock image: Strawberries growing. Getty Images

Whether its a Harvest Moon or not, September’s full moon is also called the Full Corn Moon or the Barley Moon, as these crops are traditionally harvested at this time of year. It’s also known as “Moon When the Plums Are Scarlet” by the Lakota Sioux Native Americans, “Moon When the Deer Paw the Earth” by the Omaha Native Americans and “Moon When the Calves Grow Hair” by the Sioux Native Americans.

Continuing the animal theme, October’s full moon—independent of the equinox—is called the Full Hunter’s Moon. With winter creeping ever closer, it was an important time to build up stores of game meat. Echoing the encroaching season, the full moon is also known as the Dying Grass Moon. It’s also sometimes called the Travel Moon.

November’s full moon is known as the Full Beaver Moon, as this is traditionally a time to set beaver traps. Later in the year, there is a risk swamps could freeze over. The biting cold of November is reflected in an alternative name—the Frost Moon.

Temperatures drop even further as winter settles in. December’s full moon is called the Full Cold Moon, and sometimes the Long Nights Moon.

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