The second of two consecutive “supermoons” will be glowing brightly in the night sky this week, as the full “buck moon” of July 2022 rises and gives sky watchers a special summer treat.
Here are a few things to know about the July full moon, when to see it and why it’s so unique among this year’s moons.
What day will the July moon be full?
The first full moon of the summer season (the June moon turned full a week before the summer solstice) will officially reach its fullest phase at 2:37 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, July 13. So, it will be at its biggest and brightest when it rises above the horizon Wednesday night.
If that’s not a good viewing option for you, keep in mind the moon will look 98% full Tuesday night, July 12, and have 99% illumination on Thursday, July 14.
The July supermoon will start rising in the southeastern sky over Newark and New York City at 9 p.m. Wednesday, and will set about 6:10 a.m. on Thursday, according to TimeAndDate.com. The nearly-full moon will rise again at 9:48 p.m. on Thursday and set at 7:32 a.m. on Friday.
For the moon-rise and moon-set times in your city or town, check this schedule.
Astronomy enthusiasts consider a supermoon to be a moon that turns full when its elliptical orbit is closer to the Earth than an average full moon. As a result, it can appear to be slightly larger and up to 30% brighter than usual — especially when it starts to rise over the horizon or if atmospheric conditions are ideal.
Many astronomy buffs, including those at Sky & Telescope magazine, believe a supermoon is a full moon that tracks less than 223,000 miles from the Earth at the closest point of its orbit, known as the perigee. TimeAndDate.com, which writes a lot about big sky events, uses 223,694 miles (which is 360,000 kilometers) as its benchmark for supermoons.
Because different experts use different distances, some classify more moons as supermoons and some classify fewer. In 2022, more experts seem to agree the July full moon will be the second of only two supermoons this year (June was the other one).
But some considered May’s full moon to be a supermoon and some are putting the August moon into the same classification, boosting the annual total to four.
Regardless of the number, based on its distance from the Earth at the time it turns full, the July 13 moon will be the closest one of the year — 222,089 miles away — making it the biggest and brightest full moon of 2022.
The Native American Algonquin tribes in what is now the eastern region of the United States nicknamed this full moon the “buck moon,” according to NASA and the Old Farmer’s Almanac, because this time of year is when the new antlers of male deer — bucks — are in their full growth stage.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its rival publication, the Farmers’ Almanac, say the July moon is also called the “thunder moon,” because of the frequency of thunderstorms that hit during this hot summer month. It has also been called the “hay moon.”
Other Native American tribes nicknamed this moon the following, translated directly into English:
- “Ripe corn moon” – Cherokee tribe
- “Middle of summer moon” – Ponca tribe
- “Moon when limbs of trees are broken by fruit” – Zuni tribe
After the July full moon finishes its lunar cycle, the next full moon will be glowing in the sky on Thursday, Aug. 11. The so-called “sturgeon moon” will officially turn full that day at 9:35 p.m.
Don’t forget to look for the Perseids — known as one of the best meteor showers of the year. This shower will start with sporadic shooting stars on July 14 but it won’t peak until the second week of August, according to the American Meteor Society.
This summer’s Perseids are expected to be most active on the night of Aug. 11 into the early morning hours of Aug. 12. However, the timing will be bad for sky watchers, because the moon will be 100% full.
The American Meteor Society says people in dark rural areas, away from the glow of city lights, usually can see as many as 60 to 75 meteors per hour during the peak period. But the brightness of the full moon this August will likely reduce the visibility of the shooting stars, especially the faint ones.
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Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.