Bob the Alien's Tour of the Solar System
Bob the Alien's Tour of the Solar System

The Full Moon

Every 29-30 days, Earth is positioned in between the Sun and the Moon. This causes the Moon to be visible from Earth as a complete disc. When the Moon is in this phase, it is called a Full Moon. A Full Moon on a clear night is a beautiful natural sight; the reflected light being bright enough to cast shadows on Earth.

JanuaryWolf Moon or Old Moon
FebruarySnow Moon or Hunger Moon
MarchSap Moon, Crow Moon or Lenten Moon
AprilGrass Moon or Egg Moon
MayMilk Moon or Planting Moon
JuneRose Moon, Flower Moon or Strawberry Moon
JulyThunder Moon or Hay Moon
AugustGrain Moon or Green Corn Moon
SeptemberFruit Moon or Harvest Moon
OctoberHarvest Moon or Hunter's Moon
NovemberHunter's Moon, Frosty Moon or Beaver Moon
DecemberMoon before Yule or Long Night Moon

The Full Moon has a different name for each month of the year as shown in the table to the left. The modern calendar is based on the Earth's orbit of the Sun and the Moon's orbit of Earth. A year is the length of time it takes Earth to complete an orbit of the Sun. One year is split into 12 months, and these months are loosely based on the length of time it takes for the Moon to complete a full orbit of Earth. The word "month" actually comes from the word "moon" (a "moonth"). People thousands of years ago used the objects in the sky - the Sun, the Moon and the stars - to let them know what time of year it was (and the Moon's phases to let them know what time of the month it was). The name given to each Full Moon is therefore linked to something that would be happening at that time of the year. It is usually snowy when there is a Snow Moon, planting season when there is a Planting Moon and time to harvest when there is a Harvest Moon. Because most months are 30 or 31 days long, and a Full Moon comes around every 29.5 days, if a Full Moon falls on the 1st of a month, there will be another Full Moon later that month. Some people know this second Full Moon as a Blue Moon. Most seasons, being 3 months long, have 3 Full Moons in them. However, due to a month being longer than a complete cycle of the Moon, sometimes there are four Full Moons in a season. In this instance, the third Full Moon in a season of four Full Moons is sometimes known as a Blue Moon! Confused?!!

Diagram of Full Moon phase


For most people, the Moon is purely the most prominent and familiar object in the night sky. However, for some people, the Moon is much more sinister. It is believed that a Full Moon has strange effects on people and animals. The word "lunatic" comes from the Greek word for the Moon (Luna), suggesting that a lunatic is somebody that has been sent mad by the Moon. There are even people who fear the Moon, suffering from a phobia called Selenophobia. They simply can't bear to look at the Moon and doing so makes them feel ill. This phobia feels worse when the Moon is full. Animals are said to behave strangely when there is a Full Moon, feeling agitated and nervous. And, of course, there are werewolves! Well, there aren't really werewolves but legend has always associated a Full Moon with the presence of werewolves. Some police forces report an increase in crime on nights when there is a Full Moon, but there is no real scientific evidence that "moon madness" actually exists. Some people may have a negative feeling about the Moon simply because it is the natural opposite of the Sun - the Sun provides heat and light and naturally cheers people. The Moon is visible when the Sun is not, and when this happens, it is usually cold and dark, things that people don't like.

Below is a list of dates of Full Moons between 2014 and 2018. If it's a clear night, get a pair of binoculars and have a look at it. You will be able to make out the higher plains and lower seas ("maria") and even some of the larger impact craters!

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
16th January 5th January 24th January 12th January 2nd January
14th February 3rd February 22nd February 11th February 31st January
16th March 5th March 23rd March 12th March 2nd March
15th April 4th April 22nd April 11th April 31st March
14th May 4th May 21st May 10th May 30th April
13th June 2nd June 20th June 9th June 29th May
12th July 2nd July 19th July 9th July 28th June
10th August 31st July 18th August 7th August 27th July
9th September 29th August 16th September 6th September 26th August
8th October 28th September 16th October 5th October 25th September
6th November 27th October 14th November 4th November 24th October
6th December 25th November 14th December 3rd December 23rd November
25th December 22nd December

Bob the Alien's Tour of the Solar System
Twitter logo Facebook logo Email icon

Registered in England and Wales, company number 11922238
71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9JQ
SB logo