July 2022 Full Buck Supermoon low in the southeast following its rising at 21:00 UT (9:00 PM, EDT) on July 13. Note: the brilliant ruby Antares is near the meridian with the “Tea Pot” of Sagittarius to the east. Image via Stellarium.
The full moon for this month occurs on Wednesday, July 13. According to lore, July’s full moon is also known as a “Full Buck Moon“. We’ve written extensively about the lore behind the moon’s names, most of which honor native traditions or coincide with seasonal events. For example, last month’s full moon (June) was the Strawberry moon since June’s full moon coincides with the strawberry harvest.
July’s moon is named as such because the antlers of bucks (male deer) are in full-growth mode during July. Bucks shed and regrow their antlers each year, producing a larger and more impressive set as the years progress.
Additional information on the lore of the moon and its names can be found here and here. It also should be noted that each full Moon name is applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, not solely to the full Moon.
So why is this month’s full moon also referred to as a Supermoon and what is a Supermoon?
Kepler’s First Law of Orbital Motion teaches us that all orbits are elliptical, some orbits more elliptical than others. This property of an ellipse, known as the eccentricity, depends, among other things, on the magnitude of the respective masses. All elliptical orbits necessarily have an apogee, the most distant point in the orbit and a perigee, the closest point in the orbit to the other orbiting body. In the case of our moon, a supermoon occurs when the moon is at its perigee point during the full moon phase and will thus appear ever so slightly larger simply because it’s closer. This year’s first supermoon was in May, the second was last month’s Strawberry moon and this month’s Full Buck Moon, the third. Unlike the first two however, this month’s moon will be slightly closer and thus the biggest and brightest for the year.
June, 2009’s Strawberry moon following an occultation of Antares (to the left, east). This moon was not a supermoon. Image courtesy the author.
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