For skywatchers who love space but hate the cold, July is usually the hottest and best time of year to gaze at the full moon.
Whether you call it a “thunder” moon or a “buck” moon, a gorgeous and bright supermoon will rise Wednesday evening in the southeastern sky.
It will be the biggest supermoon of the year.
The July full moon will reach its peak illumination at 2:38 p.m. EDT, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. “It will be below the horizon by then, so plan to look southeast after sunset to watch it rise in the sky,” the almanac advised.
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Why is it called a supermoon?
When the moon’s orbit closer to Earth than usual, the cosmic combo is called a supermoon.
The moon may appear slightly larger and brighter than normal, weather permitting.
“Different publications use slightly different thresholds for deciding when a full moon is close enough to Earth to qualify as a supermoon,” NASA said. “Because the moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle, the moon is sometimes closer to Earth than at other times in its orbit.”
On average, supermoons appear about 7% larger and about 15% brighter than a typical full moon.
Is it the ‘buck’ moon or the ‘thunder’ moon?
The nickname of the moon comes from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American and European sources, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
For millennia, people around the world, including Native Americans in the eastern and central United States, have named the months after cues from nature.
“The tribes followed the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon,” the almanac said.
“The full moon in July is called the buck moon because the antlers of male stags (bucks) are in full growth at that time,” the almanac said. “The males shed and regrow their antlers each year, producing a larger and more impressive set as the years go by.”
The July full moon is also called the “thunder” moon because of frequent thunderstorms in early summer, said NASA’s Gordon Johnston.
Another name for July’s full moon is the “hay” moon (for when farmers race to put hay in their barns around storms), Earthsky.com reported. According to AccuWeather, other full moon nicknames this month include the Berry Moon, the Midsummer Moon, and the Salmon Moon.
A month ago, the June 14 supermoon was the “strawberry moon” because it came around strawberry harvest time.
Contribute: The Associated Press
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