July’s full moon goes by many names: Buck Moon, Thunder Moon and Hay Moon are the most common.
In one way or another, all of these names relate back to the summer season. This month, for one, is when buck deer begin to grow velvety antlers. More thunderstorms pop up in the heat and humidity of the season. And as for that last name, this is when farmers start putting hay into their barns.
Fireworks on the 4th of July are another sure sign of the summer season, and this full moon just happens to coincide with the holiday. The full moon officially arrives on July 5 at 12:44 a.m. EDT, which means every other time zone in the United States will see the full moon right before, during or after all of the fireworks displays.
Besides being arguably the most patriotic full moon of the year, this month’s full moon is also a partial penumbral eclipse of the moon. But before you get too excited about an eclipse, know that this one is going to be tough to see — most people who see the full moon won’t even realize there’s an eclipse happening.
A partial penumbral eclipse is, as the name suggests, both partial and penumbral, which means only a part of the moon will travel across the diffuse outer shadow of Earth. And only the most observant eyes will see a slight shadow pass across the top third of the moon, reaching its maximum at half-past midnight.
Whether we can spot the eclipse or not, most of us will be looking up at fireworks on the night of July 4, and if we stick around and look a little longer, we’ll get a lot more than just a fireworks show this year.