Full moons happen every month, but did you know that there's a special name for the one in July? The Full Buck Moon is set to appear in the sky on July 16, and the unusual name has plenty of people wondering what's so special about this moon. Is it an unusual-looking moon like a red "blood moon" or a giant "supermoon?" Nope — the Full Buck Moon is all about the time of year, not the appearance of the moon.
According to NASA's official moon website, the Full Buck Moon is a name dating back to the 1930s, when the Maine Farmer's Almanac first gave names to the different full moons throughout the year to distinguish them from each other. The "Buck Moon" refers to the first full moon of the Summer season. Since Summer officially began on June 21 (with the Summer solstice) this year, this week's full moon will be the first full moon since Summer 2019 began.
The name "Buck Moon" reportedly originated with the Algonquin tribe, whose tribal lands originally spanned from what is now New England to the Great Lakes. "Early Summer is normally when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur," NASA explains. "They also called this the Thunder Moon because of early Summer's frequent thunderstorms." Other names for the first full moon of Summer include the "hay moon," which National Geographic points out represents Summer hay harvests, and Europeans in high altitudes call it the "rose moon," after the reddish tint that comes from the particular angle of the moon relative to the earth's atmosphere around the time of the Summer solstice.
Officially, the full moon will "become" full on Tuesday, July 16 at 5:39 p.m. Eastern time. This marks the exact moment when the moon is at a 180-degree angle from the sun. The moon will then still appear full for a day or so. For some, this full moon will also be accompanied by a partial lunar eclipse. Viewers in North America, though, will pretty much miss out on it: The eclipse will be most visible from the Southern Hemisphere, so Australia, South America, and Africa will get the view this time around.