February 10 in Colorado on the night of the full Snow Moon….and I spent the day running in shorts and a t-shirt in the foothills. Tomorrow I’ll be skiing. I love Colorado. Tonight was also special because it was a prenumbral eclipse of the Snow Moon. Because the name sounded like a bad teenage romance novel, I was intrigued by this lunar event and had to find out where this name came from. Prenumbra means almost shadow and is a less intense part of Earth’s shadow being cast on the moon–a shadow that is not as dark as the typical umbra eclipse.
I had not heard of a Snow Moon (or a prenumbra) until tonight. I’ve watched many lunar eclipses and heard of the Harvest Moon before, but after all these years I guess I didn’t realize EVERY full moon had a name or that we could sometimes see the very faint prenumbra shadow. It’s easy to miss. The Moon names were actually names given to the whole month and thus the corresponding full moon received its name. Most of the names were bestowed by the Algonquin tribes on the East Coast. Thanks to Farmer’s Almanac, I learned all their names tonight. Historically, the names are really interesting, even if they don’t apply to life today.
Wolf Moon – January
Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages.
Snow Moon – February
Because the heaviest snow usually falls during this month,this was most often called the Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this moon as the Hunger Moon, because harsh weather made hunting difficult.
Worm Moon – March
As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this moon as the Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation.
Pink Moon – April
This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.
Flower Moon – May
In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this moon. Other names include the Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.
Strawberry Moon – June
This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon.
Buck Moon – July
July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month’s moon was the Hay Moon.
Sturgeon Moon – August
The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.
Corn Moon or Harvest Moon – September
This full moon’s name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked when corn was supposed to be harvested. Most often, the September full moon is actually the Harvest Moon, which is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox.
Hunter’s Moon or Harvest Moon – October
This full Moon is often referred to as the Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. Many moons ago, Native Americans named this bright moon for obvious reasons. The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains.
Beaver Moon – November
This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.
The Long Nights Moon – December
During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long. It has also been called the Cold Moon.
Source: Farmer’s Almanac
These are great names, but I decided I would give the moon names an upgrade to fit life today…or at least my life. Here’s my version.
- Resolution Moon – January
- Crocus Moon – February
- Bike Tuning Moon – March
- Slush and Mud Moon – April
- Mother’s Moon – May
- Yippee Moon – June
- Splash Moon – July
- Mountain Climber’s Moon – August
- New Pencil Moon – September
- Creepy Pumpkin Moon – October
- Thanksgiving Moon -November
- Chaos Moon – December
I doubt the astronomy world will rename the full moon names on my account, but I’m going to think of each full moon differently now. They are now fun time markers shining on the treasures that each month brings.