When Is August 2021's Full Moon? Meaning of the Name Sturgeon Moon Explained

This month's full moon is called the sturgeon moon, and there are a few weeks to go before it rises in the sky.

The sturgeon moon is set to reach its peak brightness at 8:02 a.m. EDT on Sunday, August 22, according to NASA, and it will appear full for around three days around that time.

The names given to each moon of the month are listed by the The Old Farmer's Almanac, and come from a number of traditional Native American, Colonial American, and European sources.

The name "sturgeon moon" is a reference to a type of fish. Sturgeons were often caught in the Great Lakes and in Lake Champlain at this time of year, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

There are many different species of sturgeon. Some live in freshwater lakes of North America, while others live in the ocean and ascend rivers to spawn.

Sturgeons can grow to be very large and specimens of up to 26.2 feet long have been observed. Sturgeons that live in the lakes of North America may weigh more than 200 pounds.

The fish are currently listed as either threatened or endangered in 19 of the 20 U.S. states they inhabit because overfishing has decimated their populations over the years. However, conservation efforts have seen populations beginning to increase in recent years, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to the Almanac, other names for the August full moon include the corn moon, which has links back to Algonquin and Ojibwe sources, and the harvest moon, a Dakota term.

While skywatchers will have to wait a few weeks to see the sturgeon moon, there are plenty of night sky sights to see before then.

Some may already have set up their backyard telescopes for a look at Saturn, which was at its closest and brightest from our perspective on Earth for the year early on Monday morning EDT.

Gordon Johnston, a retired NASA executive who writes a monthly feature on skywatching opportunities, said those with a telescope and clear skies should have been able to see the rings of Saturn.

Another night sky phenomenon this month is the Perseid meteor shower, which has been active since mid-July. However, the shower is expected to reach its peak activity around August 12.

People should be able to see meteors from this shower in either the early morning before or after this peak.

Afterwards, on August 19, Jupiter will appear at its closest and brightest for the year from Earth, rising around sunset and setting around sunrise according to Johnston.

This offers those with a backyard telescope and clear skies the opportunity to get a look at the solar system's biggest planet. The planet, along with four of its bright moons Ganymede, Callisto, Europa, and Io, should be visible.

Full moon
The moon pictured from Rome, Italy, in November 2018. Each month carries a different name for the moon based on traditional sources. Laurent Emmanuel/AFP / Getty