Shop Windows to the Universe

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, by the National Research Council, focuses on K-8 science classsrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store, as well as classroom materials.
The Full Moon in January is called the Wolf Moon, after the hungry packs of wolves that howled at night.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell.

Full Moon Names

You may have heard people refer to a Full Moon in the autumn as the "Harvest Moon" or the "Hunter's Moon". Native Americans in the eastern and northern parts of North America had special names for the Full Moon during each month of the year. European settlers in those regions adopted the Moon names used by the Native American groups, though most people today are only aware of a few of those names.

Hundreds of Algonquian tribes of Native Americans lived throughout what we now call New England, the areas around the Great Lakes, and most of Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. They gave names to the Full Moon that appeared each month, probably to help them keep track of the seasons as a sort of calendar. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, most Algonquian peoples got food by hunting or fishing, though some also cultivated corn, beans, squash, and wild rice. The names they gave to the Full Moon are drawn from their hunting and farming lifestyles.

The table below lists the most common names for the Full Moon during each month of the year. Sometimes different groups used different names; for example the Snow Moon of February was also called the Hunger Moon. Since the Moon passes through all of its phases in slightly less than a calendar month, a Full Moon doesn't fall on the same day of a month each year, and it is even possible to have two Full Moons in a single month. Therefore, the matching of Moon names to months isn't exact. Names for the Moon do, however, roughly match up with events indicative of the seasons for which the Moon is named. Some people use a particular name for the Moon only when it is full, while others use a specific name for the Moon throughout the whole month associated with that name.



Month Moon name Why that name?
January Wolf Moon Hungry wolf packs howled at night
February Snow Moon Heaviest snowfalls in the midst of winter
March Worm Moon Start of spring, as earthworms (and the robins that eat them!) began to appear
April Pink Moon Blooms of one of the earliest springtime flowers, the herb "moss pink" (also called wild ground phlox), appeared and became widespread
May Flower Moon Many species of flowers were abundant by this time
June Strawberry Moon Strawberries were ready to be picked and eaten
July Buck Moon

New antlers of buck deer, coated with velvety fur, began to form

August Sturgeon Moon Sturgeon, a large fish found in the Great Lakes, were easily caught at this time of year
September Harvest Moon Farmers could continue harvesting until well past sunset by the light of the Harvest Moon
October Hunter's Moon Hunters tracked and killed prey by moonlight, stockpiling food for the coming winter
November Beaver Moon

Time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs

December Cold Moon The cold of winter sets in
Last modified October 17, 2005 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms

What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more

How Do the Phases Get Their Names?

When the Moon appears smaller than a quarter, we call it a crescent. When the Moon appears larger than a quarter, we call it gibbous. When the moon is getting bigger (phases New to Full) it is waxing....more

The Earth's Moon

The Earth's one natural satellite, the Moon, is more than one quarter the size of Earth itself (3,474 km diameter), making the Earth-Moon system virtually a double-planet. Because of its smaller size,...more

Evidence about the Formation of the Moon

Any successful theory must account for everything we know about the Moon now. Those things include the moon seems to be made of the same material as the Earth's upper mantle. the Moon has little or no...more

The Moon's Remnant Magnetism

Although the Moon does not appear to have a magnetosphere surrounding it, it *is* a magnetic object in space. Scientists think that the magnetism of the Moon's surface is leftover from a time when the...more

Outgassing of a Lunar Atmosphere

The atmosphere of the Moon may come from a couple of sources, one source is outgassing or the release of gases such as radon, which originate deep within the Moon's interior. Gases are released from the...more

About Lunar Water

In decades past is was accepted that the Moon contained no water. Moon rocks collected by Apollo astronauts (at lunar equatorial regions) contained no traces of water. Lunar mapping performed by the Galileo...more

The Formation of the Moon

Any successful theory must account for everything we know about the Moon now, as well as make predictions about future observations. There are three theories about how the moon came to be in place: that...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA