Moon Phases

May full moon is the Flower Moon

Full moon with two dots labeled Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali. Red circle of Antares at bottom.
May’s full moon, the Flower Moon, occurs overnight on May 15-16, 2022. It glows between the stars Zubenelgenubi and Antares. Chart by John Goss.

Looking for info on the May 15-16, 2022, total eclipse of the moon? Click here

When to watch in 2022: Overnight on May 15-16.
Where to look: Look for the bright round moon in the east in the evening, nearly overhead around midnight, and low in the west before sunrise on May 16.
Crest of the full moon falls at 04:11 UTC on May 16, 2022. That’s 11:11 p.m. CDT on May 15 in central North America. So, if you live in central North America, your fullest moon will come before midnight on May 15.
Note: This full moon coincides with a total lunar eclipse. North America is well placed to view it. Read more about the lunar eclipse here.

All full moons rise in the east at sunset and set in the west near sunrise. They are visible all night. At full moon, the sun, Earth, and moon are aligned in space, with Earth in the middle. The moon’s day side – its fully lit hemisphere – directly faces us. That is why the moon looks full. Note that the moon will look full and round the day before and the day after the day of full moon.

This month, the hemisphere facing us won’t be fully lit all night. That’s because the sun, Earth and moon are aligned just so (in a syzygy) that the Earth’s shadow will fall across the face of the moon, starting with a partial lunar eclipse before deepening into a total lunar eclipse for more than an hour. The partial lunar eclipse will resume as the shadow moves off the moon. This event is visible throughout most of the Western Hemisphere and parts of Africa and Europe. Read more about the eclipse here.

It’s the Flower Moon

All the full moons have nicknames. Popular names for May’s full moon include the Planting Moon and the Milk Moon, but the Flower Moon is the most common. The name Flower Moon recognizes the blooming of wildflowers and garden flowers, many giving an enchanting appearance in the light of May’s full moon.

Read: Full moon names by month and by season

Arc of the May full moon

The moon’s arc across our sky varies from month to month and from season to season. Every full moon rises along the eastern horizon, opposite the sun as it sets in the west. Every full moon arcs across the sky throughout the night and sets along the western horizon around dawn. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the arc of May’s full moon is lower than the paths of the full moons since December, but higher than the next one in June.

For those in the Southern Hemisphere, the full moon’s arc across the sky is climbing higher with each successive month since December, and will continue to do so until the full moon nearest the June solstice.

May full moon in Libra

As seen from the Americas, the full moon on the night of May 15 is located in the direction of the constellation Libra. It glows southeast of Libra’s “surprise” star, the moderately bright Zubenelgenubi, and above the red star Antares in Scorpius. Zubenelgenubi is a surprise star because people with keen eyesight see it as two stars, and binocular users readily catch its double star nature.

Chart shows from Earth's perspective that the moon appears against the stars of Libra.
The 2022 May full moon falls overnight on May 15-16 and lies in the constellation Libra. Chart by John Goss.

Bottom line: We in the Americas will see the moon as most full on the overnight of May 15, 2022. The moon will also undergo a total lunar eclipse on this evening.

Read about the May 2022 total lunar eclipse

How to watch a lunar eclipse

Posted 
May 14, 2022
 in 
Moon Phases

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John Jardine Goss

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