Our Moon Has Many Names; What Do They Entail?

By: Kayla Stephensen

How many times have you heard about some exciting and rare lunar occurrence in the sky? Keep reading for the meanings behind a supermoon, blood moon, blue moon, black moon, strawberry moon and harvest moon.

  1. A supermoon usually means that the moon is full when it is at its perigee, or closest point to the Earth along its orbit. It is not a term named by scientists, so there isn’t a technical definition for it. The next supermoon is 3 December 2017 and then 2 January 2018.
  2. A blood moon is really just an exaggerated term for a lunar eclipse, when the moon is entirely within the Earth’s shadow. According to an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the reddish color is actually caused by the way Earth’s atmosphere scatters light. The next full lunar eclipse will be on 31 January 2018, quite a day for the moon, as it will be the last supermoon of the year as well as a blue moon (see below).
  3. Blue moons have two definitions, one being the second full moon in a calendar month. The other is the third full moon in a four full moon season. The latter would be more rare because a typical three-month season has three full moons. Blue moons are not in fact blue.
  4. The term black moon has an opposite meaning to the blue moon. It is the second new moon, which cannot be seen, in a calendar month. Another definition is the third new moon in a season of four new moons. On 31 July, 2019, the next black moon will occur, being the second new moon in a calendar month.
  5. The term strawberry moon is the name for June’s full moon, also known as a rose moon. It isn’t known whether that name was made up in The Old Farmer’s Almanac or if it truly dates back to the season by which Algonquins collected strawberries. The next strawberry moon will be on 28 June 2018.
  6. Harvest moons are the closest full moons to the autumnal equinox which is in September. They were supposedly used by farmers to collect crops in the fall. The next harvest moon will be 25 September 2018. 



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