A Guide to the Full Moons of 2019

Full moon high in the sky
Photo: NASA

A full moon occurs when the moon, Earth and sun are lined up, with the Earth in between the sun and moon. This lets us see the entire disc of the moon illuminated in reflected sunlight. While there are 12 full moons in 2019, some years have 13 because the full moon phase occurs every 29.53 days.

Many Native American cultures gave a name to each month's full moon based on seasonal factors. Naming the moons helped them keep track of the seasons, and was particularly important in regulating farming and hunting activities.

Not every tribe named full moons the same way, but colonial Americans adopted certain ones. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, "The Full Moon Names we use in the Almanac come from the Algonquin tribes who lived in regions from New England to Lake Superior." Over time, other regional influences have created a variety of full moon names, including the original Algonquin and other variations.

Editor's note: This file has been update since it was first published in 2016.

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Wolf Moon: Jan. 21

Photo: « R☼Wεnα » [CC BY-ND 2.0]/Flickr

This moon gets its name from the packs of wolves that would howl from hunger during this time of year. It may also be referred to as the Old Moon, Ice Moon or the Moon after Yule.

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Snow Moon: Feb. 19

Photo: alvaroreguly [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr

Snow tends to be heaviest in February, which is why the second month's full moon is thus named. Because of the difficult hunting conditions, February's full moon is also sometimes called the Hunger Moon.

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Worm Moon: March 20

Photo: Glenn Beltz [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr

Spring begins on March 20, and since this is when snow melts and earthworms begin to surface, March's moon is called the Worm Moon. Another term for March's full moon is the Sap Moon due to the running of sap and tapping of trees that begins this time of year. This full moon may also be called the Crow Moon as those birds become active around this time or the Crust Moon due to the thawing ice.

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Pink Moon: April 19

Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/AFP/Getty Images

Pink phlox is one of the first flowering plants to bloom during spring, and that's where the Pink Moon gets its name. Other names for this full moon are Fish Moon and Sprouting Grass Moon, terms that refer to the abundance of springtime.

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Flower Moon: May 18

Photo: Marcus Ward [CC BY-ND 2.0]/Flickr

Like the Pink Moon before it, the Flower Moon is named for blooming plants. Other names for May's full moon are the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

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Strawberry Moon: June 17

Photo: Danette C/Shutterstock

Fruit, especially strawberries, ripen and are harvested this time of year. It may also be called the Rose Moon (in Europe) or the Hot Moon (due to high temperatures).

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Buck Moon: July 16

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Male deer or bucks sprout new antlers this time of year. This full moon may also be called the Thunder Moon due to the increased frequency of electrical storms in July. Another term for this full moon is the Hay Moon.

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Sturgeon Moon: Aug. 15

Photo: Ingrid Taylar [CC BY-NC 2.0]/Flickr

August is prime time for sturgeon fishing in the Great Lakes region (the angling waters of the Algonquin), which is why the August full moon is named this way.

This moon may also be referred to as the Full Red Moon, Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon. The term Blue Corn Moon, made famous by the song "Colors of the Wind" from Disney's "Pocahontas," may refer to a blue moon occurring in August.

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Harvest Moon: Sept. 14

Photo: Jon Bunting [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr

The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to equinox in the fall. It can be in either September or October, and in 2019 it will be in September. On the night of Friday the 13th, those who are superstitious can stay up and welcome the new full moon at 12:33 a.m.

The Harvest Moon is named for the strong light the moon gives off, allowing farmers to harvest crops later into the night. The September full moon may also be called the Corn Moon or Barley Moon, as those crops are harvested at this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Neil Young song "Harvest Moon" was inspired by this full moon. Young features the moon in many of his songs, and has been quoted as saying, "Before there was organized religion, there was the moon. The Indians knew about the moon. Pagans followed the moon. I've followed it for as long as I can remember, and that's just my religion.”

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Hunter's Moon: Oct. 13

Photo: Hugo A. Quintero G. [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr

Fall has set in. Crops have been harvested, and it's time for hunting. At this time of year, the deer have fattened, making them more desirable to hunters preparing for the long winter. This is also a particularly bright moon, similar to the Harvest Moon, and helps hunters find prey during the night. This full moon may also be called the Dying Grass Moon or the Travel Moon.

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Beaver Moon: Nov. 12

Photo: Wally Slowik Jr [CC BY-ND 2.0]/Flickr

Like the Hunter's Moon, this full moon's name has to do with trapping animals for food and supplies. Beavers were sought for their pelts, and this full moon is named after the bounty beavers had to offer. This moon may also be called the Frosty Moon due to dropping temperatures.

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Cold Moon: Dec. 12

Photo: NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

The final moon of the calendar year is the Cold Moon, named for the long nights and frigid temperatures associated with the heart of winter. It might also be referred to as the Oak Moon or the Moon Before Yule. The Cold Moon of 2015 occurred on Christmas for the first time since 1977. The next full moon on Christmas will be in 2034.