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Tonight's Buck Moon will be the largest supermoon of 2022

On Wednesday, July 13, 2022, the first full moon of the astronomical summer and the second supermoon of the year – after the “Strawberry Moon” from June – will start illuminating the night sky all over the world, offering a spectacular sight. The so-called “Buck Moon” will shine brightly between the constellations of Sagittarius and Capricornus, and reach its full phase at 14:38 EDT (18:38 GMT). Although it will not be visible at that time due to daylight neither in the United States nor in Europe, stargazers can fully enjoy it during the night as well.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, this full moon was given its name by the Algonquin tribe because the antlers of male deer (also called bucks) are at full growth at this time of the year. Other names for this moon also reference animals, such as the Salmon Moon, a Tlingit term indicating that salmon populations are returning from their migrations and are ready to be harvested, or the Feather Moulting Moon, a name given by the Cree tribe to celebrate the time of the year when fledglings shed their baby feathers to make room for those that will give them the opportunity to fly.

Plants are also featured prominently in some of this moon’s tribal names, such as the Berry Moon (Anishinaabe tribe), the Moon when the Chokecherries are Ripe (Dakota), the Ripe Corn Moon (Cherokee), and the Raspberry Moon (Algonquin). Moreover, alternative names referring to July’s often stormy weather and, more generally, to the summer season include the Thunder Moon (Western Abenaki) and the Halfway Summer Moon (Anishinaabe).

The Buck Moon will appear to be the largest and brightest full moon of the year, since it will be closest to the Earth in its orbit, reaching a point called “the perigee,” thus offering a spectacular view. According to Tania de Sales Marques, a planetarium astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, this moon will look about 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a full moon at apogee (when it is farthest away from the Earth).

People all over the world have enjoyed this spectacular moon for immemorial times, as shown by poems such as that written by James M. Matthews (1852-1910):

“A moon-flooded prairie; a straying 
Of leal-hearted lovers; a baying 
Of far away watching dogs; a dreaming 
Of brown-fisted farmers; a gleaming 
Of fireflies eddying nigh, —
And that is July!”     

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer  

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