Full Moon 2020 meaning: Why is the August Full Moon called the Sturgeon Moon?

The Full Moon of August arrives tonight (August 3) but depending on where you live, it will have a different name. In Northern America, the second Full Moon of the summer is traditionally known as the Sturgeon Moon. In other parts of the world, this Moon is known as the Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon and even the Red Moon.

In Hindu culture, this Moon also corresponds with the Raksha Bandhan festival, which celebrates the strong bonds between brothers and sisters.

Buddhists also celebrate this Full Moon as it corresponds with the Nikini Poya holiday, which commemorates the first Buddhist council some 2,400 years ago.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich in London said: “Over time, different cultures have given names to Full Moon across the lunar calendar.

“Many of the Moon’s nicknames have come to us from Native American culture because for their way of life, the cycles of the lunar phases were just as important a method of timekeeping as the longer solar cycle of the year – from which the modern Gregorian calendar is derived.”

When is the August Full Moon?

The Full Moon peaked in brightness today at about 4.58pm BST when it was still below the horizon.

Stargazers hoping to see the Full Moon will have to wait until 9.10pm BST, when viewed from London.

The Moon will then stay visible until about 5.53am BST on Tuesday, and will set on the west-southwest horizon.

The Moon will also appear full to the naked eye tomorrow night.

Many of the Moon’s nicknames have come to us from Native American culture

The Royal Observatory Greenwich

What is the meaning behind the Sturgeon Moon’s name?

As the Moon races around our planet, and the Sun by extension, it goes through 12 or 13 full lunar phases every year.

Each of these phases has a unique name that differs across the globe.

In western popular astronomy, the Full Moon’s names are derived from the time-keeping traditions of Native American tribes.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the Sturgeon Moon is named after increased fish populations in the five Great Lakes – Lakes Huron, Michigan, Erie, Ontario and Superior.

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The Almanac said: “As the dog days of summer began to give way to cooler temperatures, the Algonquin fishing tribes converged on the great lakes and other major bodies of water to fish for sturgeon: massive, prehistoric fish that can grow to more than 12 feet long

“Because these fish were such an important part of the tribe’s survival, August’s Full Moon came to be known as the Full Sturgeon Moon.

“Tribes who lived farther south knew it as the Full Red Moon, because the sultry haze of late summer made the moon appear reddish in colour.

“It was also called the Green Corn Moon or the Grain Moon, because late summer signified the beginning of the harvest, when food was put away for the cold months ahead.”

In the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, the Sturgeon Moon is the second of three Full Moons in the winter.

The Full Moon also falls in the middle of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar.

This sacred month is when Muslims from around the world will perform a pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj.

The Full Moon also falls in the middle of the Chinese lunar calendar’s sixth month.

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