The Best Time to See Tonight's Full Flower Moon (Video)
Get ready to observe a majestic moonrise as the full Flower Moon ushers in summer.
The moon will be full on May 29, when it will rise in the east as the sun sets in the west, and shine brightly all night. Known as the Flower Moon, May's full moon technically occurs in the daytime for observers in North America, though it will be best observed at dusk on Tuesday.
The moon will reach its full phase at precisely 10:20 a.m. ET when the Earth is between the sun and the moon. That exact moment, called syzygy by astronomers, sees the sun, Earth, and moon in a momentary alignment.
Why is it called the Flower Moon?
Full Moon names are largely derived from the agricultural habits of Native Americans and the early colonial settlers, and have little practical meaning for most people. However, the full Flower Moon is different. It's kinda obvious, but May is when wildflowers come into bloom across North America.
May's full moon has a couple other names with a similar heritage. The name Milk Moon comes from European settlers in North America, who marked the month when cows grazed on lush pasture, so produced fine milk. Another name, the Full Corn Planting Moon, describes the practice of planting corn and other crops under the light of the full moon, which illuminates the fields all night long.
Why does the full Flower Moon occur in the daytime?
That precise point where 100% of the lunar surface is illuminated by the Sun has nothing to do whether it's daytime or nighttime for a specific place on the plane – that's to do with Earth's rotation – but only those on the nightside of Earth will see an exactly Full Moon. That doesn't include North America.
When is best time to see the full moon in May?
This full Flower Moon will be very easy to see on May 29. Although it will become full during daylight, the best time to see the moon from North America will be at dusk. On the East Coast, that will be at 8:22 p.m. ET as it rises in the east 99.7% illuminated, just a few minutes after sunset.
The ideal time to look at any full moon is dusk. That's because the moon and sun are lined up, so the moon rises just as the sun sets. Find somewhere with a low horizon to the east, which is most easily done either at any beach on the east coast, or on a hill or the top floor of a tall building.
A moonrise is a beautiful site, as the moon emerges above the eastern horizon while its surroundings are still visible. As it rises, the Flower Moon will appear pale orange and yellow, and not until it's risen higher into the sky will it become a bright white.
When is the next full moon?
The next full moon will be the Strawberry Moon, on Wednesday, June 28, 2018. The reason why it's called the Strawberry Moon is a simple one: It's the time of year when strawberries ripen and can be harvested.