You Won't Want to Miss Sunday's Sturgeon Moon — Here's the Best Time to See It
On Sunday, Aug. 26, the ninth full moon of 2018 will shine brightly before dawn and after sunset.
Although August's full moon is typically the eighth full moon of the year, it's actually the ninth of 2018, so it occurs late in the month. Known as the Sturgeon Moon, our satellite will reach its full phase on Sunday, Aug. 26, and while the moon technically will reach its peak fullness during the day, North Americans can see it 99 percent illuminated either before dawn or after sunset.
Why is August's full moon called the Sturgeon Moon?
The sturgeon fish, North America's largest, are usually caught at this time of year in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. However, there are plenty of other names for August's full moon, such as the Full Green Corn Moon, Full Barley Moon, Wheat Cut Moon, Blueberry Moon, and Blackberry Moon, because it coincides with harvest times for those crops.
Related: When to See the Next Great Supermoon
When does the Sturgeon Moon occur?
The exact moment of fullness of August's moon is at 7:56 a.m. EST on Aug. 26, 2018. That's a couple hours or so after sunrise and moonset, so moon-gazers will have to either get up in the early hours, or wait for the evening to glimpse the Sturgeon Moon near its peak.
Why does the Sturgeon Moon occur in the daytime?
The full moon occurs when it's 100 percent illuminated by the sun, and has no relation to Earth's rotation. The moon orbits Earth once every 27 days, but doesn't appear to be rotating because it shows the same face to us all the time. That's called synchronous rotation because the Moon rotates once during its orbit. However, since Earth is rotating much faster, there's every chance that its four specific phases (new moon, first quarter, full moon, and third quarter) can occur during the day as seen from any particular location on the planet. Only those on the nightside of Earth will see an exactly full moon that's 100 percent illuminated by the sun, and in August that doesn't include North America. That's why the U.S. missed out on July's Blood Moon. However, it doesn't make much difference since the moon will look full whether viewed just before or just after its brightest phase.
How can I see the full moon in August before dawn?
If you can easily access an observing position that looks west, look for the Sturgeon Moon during the early hours of Aug. 26. In New York, the moon will set in the west 99 percent illuminated at 6:12 a.m EST, which is five minutes before sunrise. Its phase at that point is called a waxing gibbous moon.
How can I see the full moon in August just after sunset?
However, if you want to observe from a location that looks to the east, get in position for 8:01 p.m. EST. on Aug. 26 to watch the moon, now slightly past its full phase, appear on the horizon a beautiful pale orange. Its phase here is called a waning gibbous moon, but it will be 99 percent illuminated. The sun will have set at 7:37 p.m. EST, so there's a good chance the moon will rise in an pink eastern sky, something called the Belt of Venus, which always happens just after sunset.
When is the next full moon?
The Harvest Moon, also known as the Full Corn Moon, will occur at 10:53 p.m. EST on Sept. 24, 2018, so will be observable to all of North America as it’s exactly 100 percent illuminated by the sun.