Stargazers looking up at the Moon tonight might think we already have a Full Moon. But the lunar orb is only about 93 percent full and is still in its Waxing Gibbous phase. The Moon’s full phase only occurs when the Moon is positioned directly across from the Sun.
The Moon finds itself in this position roughly every 29 days, which is the length of the monthly lunar cycle.
And we only see the Moon at night because it reflects the Sun’s light back at us.
The US space agency NASA said: “If we could magically look down on our solar system, we would see that the half of the Moon facing the Sun is always lit. But the lit side does not always face the Earth
“As the Moon circles the Earth, the amount of the lit side we see changes.”
These changes are known as the lunar phases and they repeat every month.
Is it a Full Moon tonight?
Despite its appearance, the Moon has not yet reached its full phase.
The Full Moon will appear on Wednesday, September 2, peaking in the early morning hours.
Astronomers expect the Full Corn Moon to peak at 6.22am BST.
And although a Full Moon only lasts for a brief moment, the lunar orb will appear full for three days centred on the peak.
As the Moon circles the Earth, the amount of the lit side we see changes
NASA’s Gordon Johnston said: “The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Monday evening through Thursday morning.”
The ninth Full Moon of the year is traditionally known as the Corn Moon or the Harvest Moon.
The name is believed to originate in the time-keeping traditions of Native Americans.
The name reflects seasonal changes in the landscape and recalls a time when Algonquin tribes in the northeast US gathered corn, pumpkins, squash and wild rice.
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This Full Moon is also known as the Fruit Moon as many fruits ripen around this time of the year.
September’s Full Moon is also sometimes known as the Barley Moon or Harvest Moon as it falls near the autumn equinox.
Mr Johnston said: “This Full Moon corresponds to the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival.
“The seventh month of the Chinese calendar is the Ghost Month and the fifteenth day of this month – a Full Moon day – is called Ghost Day, on which ghosts and spirits, including those of deceased ancestors, come out to visit the living.”
When are the Full Moons this year?
January 10 – Wolf Moon
February 9 – Snow Moon
March 9 – Worm Moon
April 8 – Pink Moon
May 7 – Flower Moon
June 5 – Strawberry Moon
July 5 – Buck Moon
August 3 – Sturgeon Moon
September 2 – Corn Moon
October 1 and October 31 – Hunter’s Moon
November 30 – Beaver Moon
December 30 – Cold Moon
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