Ever heard of full moons with strange names like strawberry moon, worm moon, or sturgeon moon? Well, they do exist, and they were named for a reason. And number one, the strawberry moon, can actually be viewed tonight.
Where do these moons get their names?
All full moons of the year got their special names from northeastern U.S. Native American tribes. The moon names vary in category and purpose–the Wolf moon’s name, for example, which falls on January 4th, is meant to warn of danger.
The upcoming strawberry moon is supposed to be the best time to pick ripe strawberries, and is one of the few full moon names that was used by all of the Algonquin tribes.
Another moon, the worm moon, is named after the season right at the end of winter when the soil becomes softer and earthworms reappear–basically, a signal for the start of spring.
The harvest moon on September 27th is pretty self-explanatory. For a complete list of the full moon names and their dates, click here.
Full moon after the strawberry moon used to go by three different names.
Depending on the tribe, the full moon that will take place in July, after the strawberry moon, could have gone by one of three names. The first one, buck moon (which is the one used commonly today), referenced the antlers that male deer would start growing in July. The second, thunder moon, alluded to the frequent thunderstorms that would take place during this period of the year. The third one, hay moon, was used by a few tribes, and it was named after the July hay harvest.
Once in a blue moon…
The expression “once in a blue moon” gets its roots from a moon that is supposed to occur very rarely. Most seasons only have three full moons, but they can sometimes have four. The occasion is quite rare, which is why the expression named after it also signifies rarity. There was a false notion that many people believed in regarding blue moons: that they are actually the second full moon of any month. This was due to an error printed by Sky and Telescope Magazine in 1946.