November 12 full moon is the Beaver or Frosty Moon

Full moon – when the moon is most opposite the sun for this month – falls on November 12, 2019, at 13:34 UTC. Sometimes the November full moon is the Hunter’s Moon, but not this year.

Nearly full moon behind bare trees

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Katherine Crozier of Lambertville New Jersey captured this shot on November 10, 2019. She wrote: “An almost-full Frost Moon on the rise (97.3% waxing gibbous moon).” Thanks, Katherine! Check out the moon photos at EarthSky Community Photos or submit your own.

The moon appears full to the eye for two to three nights. However, astronomers regard the moon as full at a precisely defined instant, when the moon is exactly 180 degrees opposite the sun in ecliptic longitude. That full moon instant comes in the early morning hours Tuesday, November 12, 2019, according to clocks in the Americas (8:34 a.m. Eastern on November 12, or 13:34 UTC; translate UTC to your time).

Sometimes the November full moon is the Hunter’s Moon, but not this year. By tradition, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the September equinox. This year’s Harvest Moon came early, on September 13, 2019. Also by tradition, the Hunter’s Moon is the full moon following the Harvest Moon. So this year’s Hunter’s Moon was the full moon of October 12-13.

Never fear, though. November’s full moon has names all its own. The full moon of November is called the Frosty Moon or Beaver Moon.

Read more: What are the full moon names?

This full moon will interfere with the peak of the North Taurid meteor shower. It comes as the moon is sweeping through the constellation Taurus the Bull, the same constellation from which the North Taurid meteors radiate.

Read more: Full moon to subdue peak of North Taurid meteors

Full moon shining over water.

A kiss under the full moon of November 3, 2017, via our friend Steven Sweet of Lunar 101-Moon Book. He was at Port Credit, a neighbourhood in the city of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada … at the mouth of the Credit River on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Why does a full moon look full? Remember that half the moon is always illuminated by the sun. That lighted half is the moon’s day side. In order to appear full to us on Earth, we have to see the entire day side of the moon. That happens only when the moon is opposite the sun in our sky. So a full moon looks full because it’s opposite the sun.

That’s also why every full moon rises in the east around sunset – climbs highest up for the night midway between sunset and sunrise (around midnight) – and sets around sunrise. Stand outside tonight around sunset and look for the moon. Sun going down while the moon is coming up? That’s a full moon, or close to one.

Just be aware that the moon will look full for at least a couple of night around the instant of full moon.

Diagram showing a full moon on the opposite side of Earth from the sun.

A full moon is opposite the sun. We see all of its dayside. Illustration via Bob King.

Often, you’ll find two different dates on calendars for the date of full moon. That’s because some calendars list moon phases in Coordinated Universal Time, also called Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). And other calendars list moon phases in local time, a clock time of a specific place, usually the place that made and distributed the calendars. Translate UTC to your local time.

Want to know the instant of full moon in your part of the world, as well as the moonrise and moonset times? Visit the Sunrise Sunset Calendars site, remembering to check the moon phases plus moonrise and moonset boxes.

If a full moon is opposite the sun, why doesn’t Earth’s shadow fall on the moon at every full moon? The reason is that the moon’s orbit is titled by 5.1 degrees with respect to Earth’s orbit around the sun. At every full moon, Earth’s shadow sweeps near the moon. But, in most months, there’s no eclipse.

Oblique diagram of earth, sun, moon orbits. Moon orbit slightly slanted in relation to Earth's.

A full moon normally passes above or below Earth’s shadow, with no eclipse. Illustration by Bob King.

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

New moon
Waxing crescent moon
First quarter moon
Waxing gibbous moon
Full moon
Waning gibbous moon
Last quarter moon
Waning crescent moon

Bottom line: Full moon – when the moon is most opposite the sun for this month – falls on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, according to clocks in the Americas (8:34 a.m. Eastern on November 12, or 13:34 UTC; translate UTC to your time).

Read more: 4 keys to understanding moon phases

Read more: What are the full moon names?

Deborah Byrd