May full moon is the Flower Moon
When to watch in 2023: Before sunrise and after sunset on May 5.
Where to look: Look for the bright round moon low in the southwest before sunrise, and low in the southeast after sunset on May 5. It appears full during the nights of May 4 and May 5.
Crest of the full moon falls at 17:34 UTC on May 5, 2023. That’s 12:34 p.m. CDT on May 5 in central North America. So, if you live in central North America, your fullest moon falls mid-way between sunrise and sunset on May 5 when it is on the other side of Earth, and, therefore, can’t be seen. The rising moon in the southeast on that morning will resemble the setting moon in the southwest that evening.
A penumbral lunar eclipse in central Asia
This full moon coincides with a penumbral eclipse of the moon. The eclipse is not visible in the Americas, but it is visible in central Asia. Since the moon will not lie in the dark umbral shadow, but in the lightly shaded penumbral shadow instead, the eclipse event might not be easily noticeable. During the eclipse, the full moon lies in Libra the Scales next to the star Zubenelgenubi.
Moon looks full over 3 nights
At full moon, the sun, Earth, and moon align in space, with Earth in the middle. The moon’s day side – its fully lighted hemisphere – faces us. That’s why the moon looks full. Note that the moon will look round for a day or two around full moon. Because the May full moon occurs near mid-day on May 5, the moon will look full on the overnights of May 4, 5, and 6.
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. As you might expect, 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.
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.
The May full moon is in Libra
As seen from the Americas, the full moon on the morning and evening of May 5 is located in the direction of the constellation Libra the Scales. It glows near Libra’s “surprise” star all night. That surprise star is the moderately bright Zubenelgenubi. Zubenelgenubi is a surprise star because people with keen eyesight see it as two stars, and binocular users readily catch its double star nature. Also, on the evening of May 5, the full moon lies close to the red star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.
Bottom line: The May full moon occurs near mid-day today, May 5. The moon looks full on the overnights of May 4, 5, and 6.