Buck Moon 2020 meaning: NASA welcomes the July Full Moon this weekend

The Buck Moon is traditionally the seventh Full Moon of the year although it is also known by other colourful names. According to NASA, this Full Moon is also the Thunder Moon, Wort Moon, Hay Moon, Guru Moon, Mead Moon or Rose Moon. This particular Buck Moon is also special because it coincides with a penumbral eclipse.

Depending on where you live, the Full Moon will peak in brightness on Saturday, July 4, or Sunday, July 5.

Here in the UK, the Moon will position itself directly across from the Sun at about 5.44am BST on Sunday.

Stargazers on the east coast of America will see it at about 12.44am EDT on Sunday.

And though the moment of full illumination is only temporary, the Moon appears full to the naked eye for about three days centred on the peak.


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The Moon will be fully illuminated about 30 minutes after the penumbral eclipse begins.

NASA’s lunar expert Gordon Johnston said: “The Moon will be close enough to opposite the Sun that its northern edge will pass through the partial shadow of the Earth – called a partial penumbral eclipse.

“Although visible from the Americas, this slight dimming of part of the Moon should be difficult or impossible to notice without instrumentation.

“The Moon will appear full for about three days around the eclipse, from Friday evening into Monday morning, making this a Full Moon weekend.”

Penumbral eclipses unfold in the more diffuse shadow cast by the Sun and the Earth, known as the penumbra.

The Moon will appear full for about three days around the eclipse

Gordon Johnston, NASA

Unfortunately, they are not as spectacular as umbral or total eclipses.

But what about the Buck Moon’s name? What is the meaning behind it?

The unusual nickname is associated with the time time-keeping traditions of Native American tribes.

Each of the Moon’s 12 full phases were named after seasonal changes in the landscape.

Mr Johnston said: “The Maine Farmer’s Almanac first published ‘Indian’ names for the Full Moons in the 1930s.

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“According to this almanac, as the Full Moon in July and the first Full Moon of summer, the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northeastern United States called this full Moon the Buck Moon.”

The Buck Moon is believed to be named after male deer or bucks sprouting new antlers around this time of the year.

Starting in early spring, bucks will grow new antlers which then cover in velvet around July and August.

Mr Johnston said: “They also called this the Thunder Moon because of early summer’s frequent thunderstorms.”

In Europe, July’s Full Moon is also known as the Rose Moon, Mead Moon or Hay Moon after the hay harvest.

In Hindu tradition, this is also the Guru Full Moon or Guru Purnima.

Buddhists also celebrate its arrival as Dharma Day, also known as Asalha Puha or Esala Poya.

Mr Johnston said: “As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honour of the full Moon.

“Be safe – especially during thunderstorms – avoid starting wars, and take a moment to clear your mind.”

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