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What’s special about a full moon?

A full moon looks full because it’s opposite Earth from the sun, showing us its fully lighted hemisphere or day side.

Full moon via Kristal Alaimo-Moritz at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, Van Nuys, California.

Full moon comes on May 10, 2017 at 21:42UTC; translate to your timezone).

Skylore assigns names for every full moon. The May full moon is called the Flower Moon, Planting Moon and Milk Moon here in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s autumn now, this full moon is the Beaver Moon or Frost Moon.

A full moon is always opposite the sun. That’s why it looks full to us. At full moon, the moon and sun are on a line, with Earth in between. It’s as though Earth is the fulcrum of a seesaw, and the moon and sun are sitting on either end of the seesaw. So as the sun sets in the west, the full moon rises. When the sun is below our feet at midnight, the full moon is highest in the sky. When the sun rises again at dawn, the full moon is setting.

At full moon, we’re seeing all of the moon’s day side. That’s why a full moon looks full.

In many ways, a full moon is the opposite of a new moon. At both the new and full phases, the moon is on a line with the Earth and sun. At new moon, the moon is in the middle position along the line. At full moon, Earth is in the middle.

Full moon always comes about two weeks after new moon, when the moon is midway around in its orbit of Earth, as measured from one new moon to the next.

As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Follow these links to understand the various phases of the moon.

Four keys to understanding moon phases

Where’s the moon? Waxing crescent
Where’s the moon? First quarter
Where’s the moon? Waxing gibbous
What’s special about a full moon?
Where’s the moon? Waning gibbous
Where’s the moon? Last quarter
Where’s the moon? Waning crescent
Where’s the moon? New phase

Bottom line: A full moon looks full because it’s opposite Earth from the sun, showing us its fully lighted hemisphere or day side.

Can you tell me the full moon names?

Moon in 2017: Phases, cycles, eclipses, supermoons and more

Deborah Byrd

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