When is The Next Full Moon?

Published on: Mar 9, 2015

While it may seem like the moon disappears and reappears on a monthly basis, it doesn’t go anywhere or change in size, at least not really. The lunar cycle culminates in the full illumination of the moon’s visible surface by the sun’s light. We call this phase a “full moon.”

Since this is the most visible our orbiting celestial body is from the Earth, you may be wondering when the next full moon is? Unfortunately it’s not as simple as asking “when is the next full moon” and naming a holiday’s date, but calculations done can provide us with an accurate time and date throughout each year.

Let’s find out when the full moon will appear throughout 2015, then we can discuss the various names for each month’s display, and more. Just like a waxing crescent moon, we’ve only just begun.

2015 Full Moon Schedule

A full moon is the lunar phase that happens when the Earth is between the sun and moon. The light illuminates the entire visible surface of the moon during this time. This phase is unique in that it represents the only time that so much of the surface is visible.

Despite this, the brightness of the illuminated moon makes it difficult to conduct any astronomical readings during this phase. Even so, this phase is the only time when a lunar eclipse is possible. These events don’t happen every month though because the angle of the moon’s orbit causes it to pass either above or below the Earth’s shadow.

The time it takes between full moon phases is known as a synodic month and it averages roughly 29.53 days. The elliptical nature of the moon’s orbit causes the actual date to shift. Given these calculations, here are the expected dates for 2015 to view full moons. Each time is recorded in Eastern Standard:

●    January 4th - 11:53 pm
●    February 3rd - 6:09 pm
●    March 5th - 1:05 am
●    April 4th - 8:06 am
●    May 3rd - 11:42 pm
●    June 2nd - 12:19 pm
●    July 1st - 10:20 pm
●    July 31st - 6:43 am (blue moon)
●    August 29th - 2:35 pm
●    September 27th - 10:50 pm
●    October 27th - 8:05 am
●    November 25th - 5:44 pm
●    December 25th - 6:11 am

Full Moon Names and The Meanings Behind Them

Looking at the dates above, you may notice that July has two full moons this year. This only occurs in 7 out of every 19 years. The second moon in one month is what’s known as a “blue moon” which gave rise to the popular phrase “once in a blue moon.”

Another popular term in regards to a full moon is a “blood moon” which refers to the red color that the moon has during a total lunar eclipse. During this event the Earth’s shadow slowly covers the surface of the moon. When the process is complete the moon’s surface suddenly appears red.

The reason for this is the atmosphere that our planet has. During this event there is a ring of light around the Earth that allows the sun’s rays to pass through. As the light filters through our atmosphere, various frequencies of the light spectrum are affected. Red is the one that is least changed.

In fact, this color is refracted onto the Earth, then bounced back into the atmosphere, where it hits the moon during a total lunar eclipse, giving it that reddish color. Beyond these unique phenomena, the each month’s full moon was also given a name dating back to the times of Native American tribes.

Each full moon was named to better keep track of the seasons. For each month, there was a different name. Later on European settlers created similar names which are listed yearly in the Farmer’s Almanac. Those names and their explanations are listed below:

1. Wolf Moon - January

With January being a winter month, the Indian villages were constantly plagued by packs of wolves howling outside the borders. Other names for it included the Old Moon and the Moon After Yule.

2. Snow Moon - February

The heaviest snow usually falls in this month, which prompted the tribes in the northeast to create this name. An alternate name for it was the Full Hunger Moon because the weather made hunting extremely difficult.

3. Worm Moon - March

As winter begins to give way to spring, this full moon was given its name for the earthworms that begin to appear and attract feeding robins. Northern tribes called it the Full Crow Moon because the crows would begin to sound off when winter was ending. Other names included The Full Crust Moon, and the Lenten Moon over time.

4. Pink Moon - April

The name of this moon is attributed to the wild ground phlox which is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring and has a pinkish hue. Other names used were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Full Fish Moon.

5. Flower Moon - May

In May of each year, most flowers are in full bloom which prompted this name. Some other names were the Milk Moon and the Full Corn Planting Moon.

6. Strawberry Moon - June

The Native Americans of the time used this name, but the Europeans called it the Rose Moon. The original name was given because this month marks the season for strawberries each year.

7. Buck Moon - July

This month marks the time that most buck deer begin growing new antlers, which resulted in the name. It has also been called the Full Thunder Moon because of the thunderstorms that are common this time of year.

8. Sturgeon Moon - August

Native American tribes that focused on fishing chose this name because the sturgeon was most commonly caught in the Great Lakes during this time each year.

9. Corn Moon - September (Sometimes Known as Harvest Moon)

The first potential name for this moon is based on the fact that corn is harvested this time of the year. In two out of three years this moon occurs closest to the autumn equinox which makes it the Harvest Moon by tradition.

This name originated from the fact that farmers could work later during the peak times of harvest because of the light it provided.

10. Hunter’s Moon - October (Sometimes Known as Harvest Moon)

The primary name for this moon came about as a result of various tribes needing to stock up on food for the winter each year. In addition, this moon is sometimes referred to as the Harvest Moon because it falls closer to the autumn equinox than the September moon once every three years.

11. Beaver Moon - November

This moon came about just before swamps would freeze, which offered a final opportunity for tribes to set their beaver traps and use their fur for protection during the winter months. Another plausible origin is the fact that beavers prepare for winter during this month as well.

12. Cold Moon - December

This moon and its variations are named for the peak of winter cold and the longest nights for North American tribes each year. Other names include the Moon before Yule, and the Long Night Moon.

Common Beliefs Regarding the Lunar Effect

Knowing the answer to the question “when is the next full moon?” is something many people live by. There are a number of beliefs in various elements of society and human behavior that the full moon is responsible for changes in both behavior and biology.

The roots of these beliefs stem back to the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian writings. A common term, “Lunatic” actually is derived from the Latin word Luna which means “moon.” There are several common subjects that have been examined as potential areas where the full moon influences them.

These claims are, in many cases, not proven by scientific studies and when they are, a secondary or independent study reveals errors in the findings. We’ll examine a few scenarios so you can draw your own conclusions:

1. Human Fertility and Birth Rate

One common belief is that the full moon is somehow related to fertility because of the human menstrual cycle averaging 28 days. In addition, the full moon has also been associated with increased birth rates. Despite these claims, reviews of these studies have shown no relationship between these things and the full moon.

2. Human and Animal Behavior

Both animals and humans are believed to be affected by a full moon. Some studies have suggested that mentally ill patients exhibit increased violence and aggression during full moons, but these findings have since been challenged by a subsequent study.

In terms of animals, the reports are similar to the human ones in the sense that they are based on observation and not scientific studies.

3. Quality and Length of Sleep

A study in July of 2013 was conducted by the University of Basel in Switzerland that sought to examine the effects of lunar cycles on human sleep. Despite none of the patients knowing or seeing the moon, it was found that around the full moon, the brain activity during deep sleep decreased by as much as 30%

Without the patients knowing that the moon phases were a factor, unaware of where it was, and unable to see it, their sleeping patterns did indeed decrease in both length and quality during the full moon.

The possible explanations for some of these correlations are varied. Some believe that the same gravitational pull that affects the ocean tides also affects the human body because of the high water content. This has been disproved though because of the difference in scale between the oceans and the human body.

Despite these scientific studies disproving many of the claims, people still claim to see negative effects in behavior and other strange correlations.

Now, if you ever find yourself asking when is the next full moon, you will have a place to find the answer any month of the year.

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