For avid sky watchers who love space but hate cold weather, July typically provides the warmest and best time of the year to gaze at a full moon.

Whether you call it a “thunder” moon or a “buck” moon, a gorgeous, bright supermoon will rise Wednesday evening in the southeastern sky.

It will be the biggest supermoon of the year.

July’s full moon will reach peak illumination at 2:38 p.m. EDT, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. “It will be below the horizon at that time, so plan to look toward the southeast after sunset to watch it rise into the sky,” the almanac advised.

Why is it called a supermoon?

When the moon’s orbit brings it closer to Earth than usual, the cosmic combo is called a supermoon.

The moon can appear slightly bigger and brighter than normal, weather permitting.

“Different publications use slightly different thresholds for deciding when a full moon is close enough to the Earth to qualify as a supermoon,” NASA said. “Because the orbit of the moon is not a perfect circle, the moon is sometimes closer to the Earth than at other times during its orbit.”

On average, supermoons appear about 7% bigger and about 15% brighter than a typical full moon.

Is it the ‘buck’ moon or the ‘thunder’ moon?

The moon’s nickname comes from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American and European sources, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

For millennia, people across the world, including Native Americans in the eastern and central USA, named the months after nature’s cues.

“The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon,” the almanac said.

“The full moon in July is called the buck moon because the antlers of male deer (bucks) are in full-growth mode at this time,” the almanac said. “Bucks shed and regrow their antlers each year, producing a larger and more impressive set as the years go by.”

July’s full moon is also called the “thunder” moon because of early summer’s frequent thunderstorms, NASA’s Gordon Johnston said.

Another name for July’s full moon is the “hay” moon (for when farmers race to put hay in their barns around the storms), reported. According to AccuWeather, other full moon nicknames this month include the berry moon, the halfway summer moon and the salmon moon.

A month ago, the supermoon of June 14 was the “strawberry moon” because it came at strawberry harvest time.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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