Watch the July full 'buck' moon illuminate the sky tonight

Watch the July full 'buck' moon illuminate the sky tonight

Posted: Jul 23, 2021 8:11 AM
Updated: Jul 23, 2021 8:11 AM

Lunar lovers, grab a cozy spot outside and set your sights to the southeast to gaze upon July's full moon, dubbed the "buck" moon, as it rises Friday after sunset.

The moon will reach peak illumination at 10:37 p.m. ET Friday, according to NASA. In all its glory, the celestial treat will hang in the night sky for about three days around its peak, so onlookers can enjoy the glowing moon all weekend.

Why the nickname? July marks the time when male deer -- bucks -- grow out their antlers, granting this month's full moon the "buck" moniker, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. Bucks' antlers go through a cycle every year of shedding and regrowing, getting progressively larger as the animals age.

The name of the July full moon differs across cultures, however. Some Native American tribes name it for the hot summer season. The Comanche people call this event "urui mua," or "hot moon," and the Kalapuya people refer to it as "ameku," meaning "mid summer moon," according to the Western Washington University Planetarium website.

Other Indigenous groups, including the Mohawk, Apache, Cherokee and Passamaquoddy peoples, named the July moon with references to "ripening." Some are more specific to fruit, like the Anishnaabe's "aabita-niibino-giizis," meaning "raspberry moon" and the Assiniboine's "wasasa," or "red berries." The Zuni tribe, from what is now New Mexico, says "dayamcho yachunne," meaning "limbs are broken by fruit."

In contrast, Europeans use the term "hay moon" as a nod to the haymaking season of June and July, according to NASA.

Typical of a normal year, 2021 has 12 full moons. (There were 13 full moons last year, two of which were in October.)

Here are all of the full moons remaining this year and their names, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac:

August 22 -- sturgeon moon

September 20 -- harvest moon

October 20 -- hunter's moon

November 19 -- beaver moon

December 18 -- cold moon

Be sure to check for the other names of these moons as well, attributed to their respective Native American tribes.

Meteor showers

The Delta Aquariids meteor shower is best seen from the southern tropics and will peak between July 28 and 29, when the moon is 74% full.

Interestingly, another meteor shower peaks on the same night -- the Alpha Capricornids. Although this is a much weaker shower, it has been known to produce some bright fireballs during its peak. It will be visible for everyone, regardless of which side of the equator you are on.

The Perseid meteor shower, the most popular of the year, will peak between August 11 and 12 in the Northern Hemisphere, when the moon is only 13% full.

Here is the meteor shower schedule for the rest of the year, according to EarthSky's meteor shower outlook.

• October 8: Draconids

• October 21: Orionids

• November 4 to 5: South Taurids

• November 11 to 12: North Taurids

• November 17: Leonids

• December 13 to 14: Geminids

• December 22: Ursids

Solar and lunar eclipses

This year, there will be one more eclipse of the sun and another eclipse of the moon, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

November 19 will see a partial eclipse of the moon, and skywatchers in North America and Hawaii can view it between 1 a.m. ET and 7:06 a.m. ET.

And the year will end with a total eclipse of the sun on December 4. It won't be visible in North America, but those in the Falkland Islands, the southern tip of Africa, Antarctica and southeastern Australia will be able to spot it.

Visible planets

Skywatchers will have multiple opportunities to spot the planets in our sky during certain mornings and evenings throughout 2021, according to the Farmer's Almanac planetary guide.

It's possible to see most of these with the naked eye, with the exception of distant Neptune, but binoculars or a telescope will provide the best view.

Mercury will look like a bright star in the morning sky from October 18 to November 1. It will shine in the night sky from August 31 to September 21, and November 29 to December 31.

Venus, our closest neighbor in the solar system, will appear in the western sky at dusk in the evenings through December 31. It's the second-brightest object in our sky, after the moon.

Mars makes its reddish appearance in the morning sky between November 24 and December 31, and it will be visible in the evening sky through August 22.

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, is the third-brightest object in our sky. It will be on display in the morning sky through August 19. Look for it in the evenings August 20 to December 31 -- but it will be at its brightest from August 8 to September 2.

Saturn's rings are only visible through a telescope, but the planet itself can still be seen with the naked eye in the mornings through August 1 and in the evenings from August 2 to December 31. It will be at its brightest during the first four days of August.

Binoculars or a telescope will help you spot the greenish glow of Uranus in the mornings through November 3 and in the evenings from November 4 to December 31. It will be at its brightest between August 28 and December 31.

And our most distant neighbor in the solar system, Neptune, will be visible through a telescope in the mornings through September 13 and during the evenings September 14 to December 31. It will be at its brightest between July 19 and November 8.

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