Why July's Full Moon Is Known as the Buck Moon

By: Valerie Stimac  | 

buck moon
The buck moon is expected to be a supermoon, like this one. John Finney photography/Getty Images

Though its pattern is completely predictable, there always seems to be something interesting happening with the moon and its phases, including the upcoming full moon in July.

You may have heard it called a "buck moon," and wonder why each full moon has a nickname – and where that moon name comes from. Here are some fascinating facts about the buck moon and when you can see it in the night sky.

In July 2022, the full moon will appear at 6:38 p.m. GMT (or 2:38 p.m. EDT) on July 13, according to NASA. For some people, mostly those in the Western Hemisphere and Far Eastern Hemisphere, this means the exact arrival of the full moon occurs during the daytime when the sun is in the sky and the moon is below the horizon. Don't worry though: The moon will still be brightly visible in the night sky once the sun goes down.

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The Buck Moon Has Many Names

So, what are the origins of the term "buck moon" to describe the full moon in July? This refers to the new antlers that are growing rapidly on male deer (bucks) around this time. As deer lose their antlers each year, each part of the antler's growth – including when they reached full size in the mid-summer – was a notable part of the annual cycle. The term "buck moon" comes from the Native American Algonquin people, who primarily lived east of the Mississippi River where deer were prevalent.

Buck moon is not the only name you can give to July's full moon; other Native American groups call it the thunder moon, the berry moon, raspberry moon, and the salmon moon (a Tlingit term referring to the time when salmon return to the waterways of the Pacific Northwest). Celtic groups referred to it as the claiming moon, herb moon, wyrt moon ("wyrt" is another word for "herb") or mead moon.

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The Brightest "Supermoon" of 2022

After several years of making headlines, you've probably heard the term "supermoon." The moon is considered a supermoon when it reaches its full phase near its perigee – that is, when it's at its closest point to Earth. This means there are a few supermoons, usually three to four, throughout the year. Supermoons are usually a bit brighter and a bit larger than "regular" moons, though most casual viewers can't perceive a difference.

The July 2022 buck moon is special because it's the brightest and biggest supermoon of 2022. June's strawberry moon was also considered a supermoon, but in July, the moon will be slightly closer and thus slightly bigger than last month. To be specific, the moon will be 222,089.3 miles (357,418 kilometers) from Earth –  124 miles (200 kilometers) closer than it was in June.

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Every Lunar Cycle Has Other Names

In addition to calling the July full moon a buck moon, each of the other lunar cycles has many other names that have been passed down through history. Upcoming months reveal the changing seasons as summer slips into autumn. August is usually called the sturgeon moon, September is called the full corn moon and October is the hunter's moon. Each of these names usually refers to the status of agriculture or hunting at that time of year and helped mark the passage of time for Native American groups in the Americas pre-contact with European settlers.

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