English translations of full moon names date back a few hundred years to Native Americans living in what is now the northern and eastern United States. Those tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon.
There were some variations in moon names between groups, but, in general, the same ones were used throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed their own customs and created some of their own names.
Since the lunar (“synodic”) month is roughly 29.5 days in length on average, the dates of the full moon and the other moon phases shift from year to year.
Here is a listing of some commonly used full moon names, as well as their dates and times for 2022.
Jan. 17: Full Wolf Moon
6:48 p.m. EST (2348 GMT)
Amid the zero-degree cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside villages. It was also known as the Old Moon or the Moon after Yule. In some tribes this was the Full Snow Moon; most applied that name to the next moon.
Since the moon arrives at apogee about 3.5 days earlier, this will also be the smallest full moon of 2022. In apparent size, it will appear about 10.8% smaller than the full moon of July 13.
Feb. 16: Full Snow Moon
11:56 a.m. EST (1656 GMT)
Usually, the heaviest snows fall in this month. Hunting becomes very difficult, and hence to some tribes this was the Full Hunger Moon.
Mar. 18: Full Worm Moon
3:18 a.m. EDT (0718 GMT)
In this month the ground softens and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. Some more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation.
Apr. 16: Full Pink Moon
2:55 p.m. EDT (1855 GMT)
The grass pink or wild ground phlox is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and — among some tribes on the east coast — the Full Fish Moon, when the shad come upstream to spawn.
In 2022 this is also the Paschal Full Moon; the first full moon after the spring equinox on March 20. The first Sunday following the Paschal Moon is Easter Sunday, which indeed will be observed the very next day on Sunday, April 17.
May 16: Full Flower Moon
12:14 a.m. EDT (0414 GMT)
Flowers are abundant everywhere by this time of year. This moon was also known as the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.
This full moon will also undergo a Blood Moon total lunar eclipse. North America will have a ringside seat for it, as totality will occur between the late evening hours of May 15 and the after-midnight hours of May 16 depending on your location. Totality will last 85 minutes.
Jun. 14: Full Strawberry Moon
7:52 a.m. EDT (1152 GMT)
Strawberry picking season peaks during this month; Europeans called this the Rose Moon.
July 13: Full Buck Moon
2:38 p.m. EDT (1838 GMT)
Named for when the new antlers of buck deer push out from their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, thunderstorms being now most frequent. Sometimes it’s also called the Full Hay Moon.
The moon will also arrive at perigee about 9.5 hours earlier, at 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT) at a distance of 221,993 miles (357,264 kilometers) from Earth. So, this will be the biggest full moon of 2022. Very high ocean tides can be expected during the next two or three days, thanks to the coincidence of perigee with full moon.
Aug. 11: Full Sturgeon Moon
9:36 p.m. EDT (Aug. 12 at 0136 GMT)
This moon honors when this large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water like Lake Champlain is most readily caught. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because when the moon rises it looks reddish through sultry haze, or as the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.
The occurrence of this full moon on this particular date is rather poor timing for those who enjoy the annual performance of the Perseid meteor shower; this display will peak less than 24 hours later and the brilliant light of that nearly full moon will likely wash out all but the very brightest of these swift streaks of light.
Sept. 10: Full Harvest Moon
5:59 a.m. EDT (0959 GMT)
Traditionally, this designation goes to the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal (fall) equinox, which falls this year on Sept. 22. This year’s Harvest Moon comes unusually early.
At the peak of the harvest, farmers can work into the night by the light of this moon. Usually, the moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice — indigenous staples in North America — are now ready for gathering.
Oct. 9: Full Hunter’s Moon
4:55 p.m. EDT (2055 GMT)
With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it’s now time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble, and can more easily see the fox and other animals.
Nov. 8: Full Beaver Moon
6:02 a.m. EST (1102 GMT)
At this point of the year, it’s time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now active in their preparation for winter. It’s also called the Frosty Moon.
The year’s second total lunar eclipse occurs with this full moon. The eclipse will be visible in its entirety over western North America; in central and eastern regions, moonset will intervene during the latter part of the umbral stages and the moon will set as the total phase begins along the Atlantic seaboard. As was the case in May, totality will last 85 minutes.
Dec. 7: Full Cold Moon
11:08 p.m. EST (Dec. 8 at 0408 GMT)
December is usually considered the month that the winter cold fastens its grip on the Northern Hemisphere. Sometimes this moon is referred to as the Long Nights Moon, and the nights are indeed at their longest. The moon is above the horizon a long time. On occasion, this moon was also called the Moon before Yule.
This particular full moon makes its highest arc across the sky because it is opposite to the low sun. And on this very same night, another celestial object will also be opposite to the sun: Mars, which arrives at opposition 87 minutes after the moon turns full. Depending on your location, you will see Mars shining like a brilliant yellow-orange star, either hovering very close below the moon, or you will see the moon actually pass in front of Mars, producing an occultation.
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmers’ Almanac and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.