Above: A lovely shot of a full moon in 2017 from Peter Ryan in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
On August 2 and 3, 2020, everyone around the world (except far-northern Arctic latitudes) will see a full-looking moon lighting up the nighttime from dusk until dawn. In North America, we often call the August full moon the Sturgeon Moon, Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon. For the Northern Hemisphere, this August full moon ushers in the second of three full moons of the summer season.
By season, we are referring to the time period between the June solstice and the September equinox.
In the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s the opposite season, this is second of three winter full moons.
It’s very hard to tell when a moon is precisely full just by looking at it. This month’s moon turns precisely full on August 3 at 15:59 UTC (translate UTC to your time). At U.S. time zones, that translates to 11:59 a.m. EDT, 10:59 a.m. CDT, 9:59 a.m. MDT, 8:59 a.m. PST, 7:59 a.m. AKDT, and 5:59 a.m. HST. But those times indicate only the crest of the moon’s full phase. They indicate when the moon is most opposite the sun for this month (180 degrees from the sun in ecliptic longitude).
To the eye, on the other hand, the moon appears over 99 percent illuminated for about a day before and after full moon. People around the world will regard the moon as full on both August 2 and August 3.
At about the time of the full moon, the moon rises in the east around sunset, climbs highest up for the night around midnight and sets in the west around sunrise. So these next few nights, look for the moon in your eastern sky at dusk and your western sky at dawn.
Want to know the exact time for the full moon at your locality, plus the moonrise and moonset times? Sunrise Sunset Calendars gives the times. Remember to check the Moon phases and Moonrise and moonset boxes.
This August 2020 full moon does not pass through the antisolar point – the point that’s exactly opposite the sun – or else this full moon would undergo a total lunar eclipse. The last time the full moon passed through the antisolar point and through the center of the Earth’s dark umbral shadow was over two years ago, when it staged the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century (2001 to 2100) on July 27, 2018.
Last month, in July 2020, the full moon missed the antisolar point and swung south of Earth’s dark umbral shadow. Yet the moon did clip the southern portion of the Earth’s faint penumbral shadow to present a partial penumbral eclipse on July 5, 2020.
The full moon won’t sweep through the Earth’s umbra again until May 26, 2021. But the moon will swing well north of the antisolar point, to display the second-shortest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century (2001 to 2100).
The full moon won’t meet up with the antisolar point until it barely grazes the center of the Earth’s dark shadow during the total lunar eclipse of May 16, 2022.
The worldwide map below shows the day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the August 2020 full moon (August 3, 2020, at 15:59 UTC). The shadow line at left represents sunrise August 3 whereas the shadow line at the right depicts sunset August 3.
You have to be on the nighttime side of Earth to see the moon at the instant it turns full.
Bottom line: On both August 2 and 3, 2020, the brilliant full moon drenches the nighttime with moonlight from dusk until dawn.