It's no surprise that the word month is derived from the moon's phases. For timekeepers and calendar makers, the moon's phases have helped keep the days passing like clock-work for centuries.
In the US, the full moon goes by many names as each month passes, a tradition begun by Native Americans and carried on by America's rich farming tradition that used the moon as a timetable for hunting, planting, and harvesting. The Harvest Moon in October, for example, is pretty self-explanatory, as is the Flower Moon in May.
Just up ahead, find out what and why the full moon is named each month, with accompanying dates and times for optimum viewing throughout the year. In 2018, there will be TWO "Blue Moons" meaning the second occurrence gets the designation when there are two full moons occurring within a single month. This year, it's in January and in March.
January 1, 2018 full moon, THE FULL WOLF MOON - Cold January weather was said to be the reason that wolves howled most loudly than at any other time of year -- especially during a full moon. This year, New Year's Day kicked off with the biggest and brightest moon of the year otherwise known as a "super moon."
January 31, 2018 full moon, THE FULL SNOW MOON - The Snow Moon was named by Native Americans for the heavy snows that occurred at this time. And, as you may have noticed, there is a second full moon in January this year. It is such an oddity that the second is often called a Blue Moon (hence the old expression, "once in a blue moon"). And, to add to the novelty, this moon will undergo a total lunar eclipse tonight.
February 2018 NO FULL MOON - As above, the two full instances of full moons in January means the full moon will not put an appearance in the shortest month of the year. The last time there was no full moon in the month of February was in 1999. The next time February lacks a full moon will be February 2037.
March 1, 2018 full moon, THE FULL WORM MOON - With the March thaw, a sure sign of spring was when earthworms began to appear, attracting spring robins and marking the yearly reboot for planting, fishing, and hunting. Other native tribes called it the Full Crow Moon since the cawing of crows signaled the end of another cold winter. Another name was the Full Crust Moon, for the snow that became crusted over by thawing by day and re-freezing at night.
March 31, 2018 full moon, THE FULL SAP MOON - ANOTHER rare occurrence of TWO full moons in a calendar month occurs -- which makes up for February having no full moon. The Sap Moon was named for the tapping of maple trees for its sweet syrup about this time of year. In Christian tradition, the Sap Moon is also known as the Paschal moon, meaning Easter Sunday is on its way. This year, Easter falls on the very next day, on April 1, 2018.
April 29, 2018 full moon, THE FULL PINK MOON - One of the earliest flowers to bloom in early April was the the grass pink orchid, which carpeted entire landscapes to give this month's full moon its fitting name. Elsewhere, it was known as the Fish Moon, named by fishing communities to mark the time when shad began to swim upstream to spawn in April.
May 29, 2018 full moon, THE FULL FLOWER MOON - One of the most anticipated full moons of the year in tribal culture, the Full Flower Moon was in full bloom during the merry month of May. As wildflowers and medicinal plants flourished, the Flower Moon was also a sign of fertility and rejuvenation.
June 28, 2018 full moon - THE FULL STRAWBERRY MOON- What's more romantic than a full moon in June? Native Indians named it for the wild strawberry harvest celebrated each June, while Europeans named it the Rose Moon for the year's first emergence of the fragrant summer bloom. It is also known as the Hot Moon as summer temperatures began to rise.
July 27, 2018 full moon, THE FULL BUCK MOON - Bucks, or male deer, shed their old antlers and grow new ones every year around this time, and thus the name. In Europe, it is also known as the Hay Moon for the annual hay harvest in July. Maybe more dramatically, it is also known as the Thunder Moon for the booming rain storms that drenched the plains and other parts of the US.
August 26, 2018 full moon, THE FULL STURGEON MOON - Fishing tribes called the August full moon the Sturgeon Moon because the fish is most abundant in lakes during this time. By the light of the August moon, waters teaming with sturgeon could be fished throughout the night. Other names for this full August moon are tied to traditional harvesting times including Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, Fruit Moon, and Barley Moon.
September 24, 2018 full moon, THE FULL HARVEST MOON - Important staples of the Native American diet - corn, squash and pumpkins - were ripe for the picking in September. The Harvest Moon is also famous for a warm golden hue at its peak, as it slowly rises above the horizon just after sunset.
October 24, 2018 full moon, THE FULL HUNTERS MOON - With all the crops harvested, native tribes could turn their attention to hunting. Deer fattened throughout a lush summer meant hunters were able to store up enough meat to last throughout a cold winter before heavy snows blanketed the ground.
November 24, 2018 full moon, THE FULL BEAVER MOON - November’s full moon was named Beaver Moon by Algonquin tribes, who taught early colonists to set traps for beavers so that they had enough furs to last through winter. It's also known as the Frost Moon in conjunction with the season's first frost.
December 22, 2018 full moon, THE FULL COLD MOON - No surprise how this month's full moon got its name among northern tribes! The December full moon is also known as the Long Night's Moon as it often coincides with the Winter Solstice on December 21, which marks the longest night of the year.
Lunar eclipses in 2018
Lunar eclipses happen when the Earth is aligned in such a way that it temporarily blocks the sun from reaching the moon. The show begins as the moon passes through Earth's shadow, turning a full moon into a half moon to a slight crescent. At its height, a total eclipse eerily turns the entire moon a rusty orange hue.
This year, two total lunar eclipses will appear months apart. The first total lunar eclipse occurs on January 31, 2018 and will be visible for much of the United States and Canada as well as parts of Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and North/East Africa.
Jan 31, 2018
Total Lunar Eclipse
Where to watch: North America, North/East Europe, North/West South America, Asia, Australia, North/East Africa
Jul 27/28, 2018
Total Lunar Eclipse
Where to watch : Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica
2018 solar eclipses
Although there are two partial solar eclipse which will occur in 2018 most of the Western world will not be in line to view them.
Feb 15, 2018
Partial Solar Eclipse
Where to watch: South in South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Antarctica
Jul 13, 2018
Partial Solar Eclipse
Where to watch: South in Australia, Pacific, Indian Ocean
Aug 11, 2018
Partial Solar Eclipse
Where to watch: North/East Europe, North/West Asia, North in North America, Atlantic, Arctic
A simple pinhole projection is the
safest way to view a solar eclipse.
All about solar eclipses
As the moon passes between the Earth and the sun during a partial eclipse, the sun resembles more of a crescent with only a section of it visible. During a total eclipse, the moon's shadow totally blocks out the sun.
While a total solar eclipse may make for more drama, a partial solar eclipse is still worth a watch! Note, however, that safety tips which apply to a total eclipse also apply to a partial eclipse -- meaning, precautions against eye damage.
The safest way to view any solar eclipse? Construct a simple pinhole projection by poking a hole in a sheet of paper or cardboard. Then, hold another sheet of paper directly behind it to witness the eclipse as it happens (see illustration.) This allows you, or an entire group of friends, to view the eclipse while avoiding any chance of eye exposure to the sun's harmful rays.
Finally, if you use a camera or telescope to view a solar eclipse always be sure to attach a solar filter to the lens before viewing.
Discover an out-of-this-world guide to the best sites for learning more
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Hubble-site - The latest and greatest shots take from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Online - Is there one forecast? Check out a complete encyclopedia of eclipses searchable by year and featuring diagrams, animations, facts and information on lunar and solar eclipses up to the year 2100.
AstroLINKS - A major space portal with thousands of related links searchable by keyword or via dozens of categories including black holes,
asteroids, meteor showers, comets, the Big Bang theory and more, plus breaking news, glossary.
Astronomy for Kids - Here's a way cool site presenting the solar system in digestible bites and pictures, along with Q&A, star maps, puzzles and related resources.