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July Full Moon and Supermoon

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Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash
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We have a full moon coming up on July 13. Not only that, but this full moon is also a supermoon. So, you might want to make a point of doing some moon watching the evening of the 13th.

Full moons, of course, occur when the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun. That is when the moon is a fully illuminated orb in all its glory. And as most everyone knows, a full moon occurs about once a month.

This moon is also a supermoon. A supermoon has been defined as “a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.” From what I have read, we may get three or four supermoons each year. So it is not something we see all that often.

This is the second Supermoon this year. We had one back on June 14. We will have one again on August 12. Some estimates have this supermoon about 15% brighter and 7% larger than a regular full moon, however that is defined.

Full moons have had a variety of names in different cultures. If the Farmer’s Almanac is your source of information, this one is the Full Buck Moon, a reference to the growth of new antlers this time of year. A few other names for the July full moon include the Thunder Moon (a reference to summer thunderstorms), Hot Sun Moon (no explanation needed there), Wort Moon (the time to harvest herbs), and Feather Molting Moon (the time for waterfowl to molt). Other names include Hay Moon, Buffalo Bull Moon, Elk Moon, Raspberry Moon, and Moon when the Chokecherries are Ripe. And although we seldom think of it, the seasons on the Southern Hemisphere are the opposite, so July full moons down there may be known as the Ice Moon or perhaps the Wolf or Old Moon.

So the names of full moons are a product of the various cultures and can even differ within some cultures. So, as you observe the full moon and supermoon you may want to create your own name for it. What would you name the July full moon?

Chuck Lura has a broad knowledge of “Natural North Dakota” and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005 he has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for North Dakota’s newest newspaper, the Lake Metigoshe Mirror. His columns also appear under “The Naturalist” in several other weekly newspapers across North Dakota.
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