The next full moon will be on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at 2:31 p.m. EDT (1431 GMT), but the moon will still appear full the night before and after its peak to the casual stargazer. It comes after the July full moon, which occurred on July 3.
August's full moon, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac, is sometimes known as the Sturgeon Moon. The name likely came from both colonists and Algonquian-speaking peoples in northeastern North America, as sturgeon are native to both Europe and the Americas.
The full moon shows its face to Earth about once a month. Well, sort of.
Most of the time, the full moon isn't perfectly full. We always see the same side of the moon, but part of it is in shadow, due to the moon's rotation. Only when the moon, Earth and the sun are perfectly aligned is the moon 100% full, and that alignment produces a lunar eclipse.
And sometimes — once in a blue moon — the moon is full twice in a month (or four times in a season, depending on which definition you prefer).
Related: Night sky: What you can see
Fancy taking a more in-depth moonlit tour of our rocky companion? Our ultimate guide to observing the moon will help you plan your next skywatching venture whether it be exploring the lunar seas, mountainous terrain, or the many craters that blanket the landscape. You can also see where astronauts, rovers and landers have ventured with our Apollo landing sites observing guide.
You can prepare for the next full moon or eclipse with our guides on how to photograph the moon and how to photograph a lunar eclipse. If you need imaging gear, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography to ensure you're ready for your next skywatching venture.
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When is the full moon? Calendar dates for 2023
This is when full moons will occur in 2023, according to NASA:
|U.S. Eastern Time
|03:42 on June 4
|01:35 Aug. 31
|03:33 GMT on Dec. 27
The 2023 full moon names explained
Many cultures have given distinct names to each month's full moon. The names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. The Farmer's Almanac lists several names that are commonly used in the United States. There are some variations in the moon names, but in general, the same ones were used among the Algonquin tribes from New England on west to Lake Superior. European settlers followed their own customs and created some of their own names.
Other Native American people had different names. In the book "This Day in North American Indian History" (Da Capo Press, 2002), author Phil Konstantin lists more than 50 native peoples and their names for full moons. He also lists them on his website, AmericanIndian.net.
Amateur astronomer Keith Cooley has a brief list of the moon names of other cultures, including Chinese and Celtic, on his website.
Chinese moon names:
|Hungry Ghost Moon
Full moon names often correspond to seasonal markers, so a Harvest Moon occurs at the end of the growing season, in September or October, and the Cold Moon occurs in frosty December. At least, that's how it works in the Northern Hemisphere.
In the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are switched, the Harvest Moon occurs in March and the Cold Moon is in June. According to Earthsky.org, these are common names for full moons south of the equator.
January: Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Mead Moon
February (mid-summer): Grain Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Wyrt Moon, Corn Moon, Dog Moon, Barley Moon
March: Harvest Moon, Corn Moon
April: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon
May: Hunter’s Moon, Beaver Moon, Frost Moon
June: Oak Moon, Cold Moon, Long Night’s Moon
July: Wolf Moon, Old Moon, Ice Moon
August: Snow Moon, Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon
September: Worm Moon, Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, Sap Moon
October: Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, Pink Moon, Waking Moon
November: Corn Moon, Milk Moon, Flower Moon, Hare Moon
December: Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon, Rose Moon
The phases of the moon explained with dates
The moon is a sphere that travels once around Earth every 27.3 days. It also takes about 27 days for the moon to rotate on its axis. So, the moon always shows us the same face; there is no single "dark side" of the moon. As the moon revolves around Earth, it is illuminated from varying angles by the sun — what we see when we look at the moon is reflected sunlight. On average, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day, which means sometimes it rises during daylight and other times at night.
There are four phases of the moon, new moon, first quarter moon, full moon and third quarter moon.
At new moon, the moon is between Earth and the sun, so that the side of the moon facing toward us receives no direct sunlight, and is lit only by dim sunlight reflected from Earth.
A few days later, as the moon moves around Earth, the side we can see gradually becomes more illuminated by direct sunlight. This thin sliver is called the waxing crescent.
A week after the new moon, the moon is 90 degrees away from the sun in the sky and is half-illuminated from our point of view — what we call first quarter because it is about a quarter of the way around Earth.
A few days later, the area of illumination continues to increase. More than half of the moon's face appears to be getting sunlight. This phase is called a waxing gibbous moon.
When the moon has moved 180 degrees from its new moon position, the sun, Earth and the moon form a line. The moon’s disk is as close as it can be to being fully illuminated by the sun, so this is called full moon.
Next, the moon moves until more than half of its face appears to be getting sunlight, but the amount is decreasing. This is the waning gibbous phase.
Days later, the moon has moved another quarter of the way around Earth, to the third quarter position. The sun's light is now shining on the other half of the visible face of the moon.
Next, the moon moves into the waning crescent phase as less than half of its face appears to be getting sunlight, and the amount is decreasing.
Finally, the moon moves back to its new moon starting position. Because the moon’s orbit is not exactly in the same plane as Earth’s orbit around the sun, they rarely are perfectly aligned. Usually the moon passes above or below the sun from our vantage point, but occasionally it passes right in front of the sun, and we get an eclipse of the sun.
Each full moon is calculated to occur at an exact moment, which may or may not be near the time the moon rises where you are. So when a full moon rises, it’s typically doing so some hours before or after the actual time when it’s technically full, but a casual skywatcher won’t notice the difference. In fact, the moon will often look roughly the same on two consecutive nights surrounding the full moon.
Lunar eclipses of 2023
When the moon is in its full phase, it is passing behind the Earth with respect the sun and can pass through Earth's shadow, creating a lunar eclipse. When the moon is fully inside the Earth's shadow, we see a total lunar eclipse. At other times, the moon only partially passes through the Earth's shadow in what is known as a partial, or even penumbral lunar eclipse (when the moon only skirts through the outermost region of Earth's shadow).
In 2023, there are two lunar eclipses: A penumbral lunar eclipse on May 5 and a partial lunar eclipse on Oct. 28.
The penumbral lunar eclipse on May 5 was a very slight lunar eclipse in which the moon passed through the outermost edge of the Earth's shadow. It was visible from South/East Europe, Much of Asia, Australia, Africa, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Antarctica. The eclipse began at 10:11 a.m. EST (1511 GMT), the maximum eclipse was reached at 12:22 p.m. EST (1722 GMT) and the penumbral eclipse ended at 2:31 p.m. EST (1931 GMT), according to TimeandDate.com. The overall duration of the eclipse was 4 hours and 18 minutes.
The partial lunar eclipse on Oct. 18 will be visible over Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, North/East South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic and Antarctica. It will begin at 2:35 p.m. (1935 GMT), the maximum eclipse occurs at 15:14 p.m. EST (2014 GMT) and the partial eclipse will end at 3:52 p.m. EST (2052 GMT). It will last 4 hours and 25 minutes.
Because the moon's orbit around the Earth is tilted, it does not line up with Earth's shadow every month and we do not have a lunar eclipse each month.
Solar eclipses of 2023
When the moon is in its "new" phase, it passes between the Earth and the sun, so the side facing the Earth appears dark. To find out when and where you can see the next solar eclipse, check out our solar eclipse guide.
Occasionally, the moon's orbit lines up with the sun in such a way that part or all of the sun can be blocked by the moon, as viewed from Earth. When the moon completely blocks the sun's disk, we see a total solar eclipse during the day, which can be a truly awe-inspiring site. Other times, the moon can only partially block the sun in a partial solar eclipse.
The moon can even create a "ring of fire" solar eclipse when it passes directly in front of the sun, but is at a point in its orbit that is too far from Earth to fully cover the sun's disk. This leaves a ring, or "annulus," around the moon to create what is called an annular solar eclipse.
There are two solar eclipses in 2023: a hybrid solar eclipse on April 20 and an annular solar eclipse on Oct. 14.
The rare hybrid solar eclipse on April 20 wasboth an annular "ring of fire" solar eclipse and a transition into a total solar eclipse briefly over some parts of Earth. The annular effect was visible for just a few seconds in the Indian and Pacific oceans and isn't visible anywhere on land. A total eclipse was only be visible in three locations on land, Exmouth, Western Australia, Timor Leste and West Papua.
The annular solar eclipse on Oct. 14 will be visible across parts of North America, Central America and South America. It will begin in the western United States and travel from the coast of Oregon to the Texas Gulf coast, passing over Nevada, Utah, New Mexico as well as some parts of California, Idaho, Colorado and Arizona. It then passes over Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Panama. It will conclude in South America as it passes over Columbia and Brazil.