A Special Weekend of Moons: Start Watching Early

Why August's Full Moon Is One of the Best

August 17, 2021
Moon Over Water

This weekend’s Full Moon on August 22 is really worth watching. Although it’s technically “full” this Sunday, you ought to give it a look-see each clear night starting Friday the 20th. I’ll explain why it’s a special weekend of Moons worth watching.

A Full Moon Worth Watching

  1. On all three nights, the Moon will be tangled together with the planets Jupiter and Saturn. Very close to Saturn on Friday night, right amidst both brilliant Jupiter and less-bright Saturn on Saturday, and forming a line with them when it’s full on Sunday. Read about super-bright Jupiter which is at its best right now.

  2. But there’s more going on than even that. This Full Moon is very much like a Harvest Moon of September. Its behavior is nearly identical. Which, okay, requires a bit of explanation.

Credit: Josef Beck/Media Bakery

The Harvest Moon 

Next month’s Harvest Moon in September is the Moon that occurs nearest to the equinox. It never looks different from any other Full Moon. It’s not bigger or redder or higher or lower or anything else you might notice visually. Its calling card is simply that, for several nights in a row, it keeps rising around dusk. See the Almanac’s Moonrise and Moonset Calculator.

Instead of the usual one-hour delay in successive moonrises from night to night, the evenings surrounding Harvest Moon find the Moon come up just 20 or 25 minutes later each night. This results in an abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening. Learn more about how the Harvest Moon Shines On!

The following Full Moon (in October) exhibits very similar behavior. So similar that it, too, has its own special name—the Hunter’s Moon, which this year falls on October 20.

The Full Moon of August

Now for the weird part of our story. This Sunday night’s full Moon (August 22) shows that same effect of rising at nearly the same time for several succeeding evenings. It’s every bit of a dramatic happening as the Harvest or Hunter’s Moon. Yet it has no special name relating to this, and gets no notice in the media. 

The Algonquin name for August’s full Moon is the Sturgeon Moon because the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this part of summer. Other Native American tribes have other names. The Nez Perce call it the Summertime Moon; the Cheyenne name it The Moon When The Cherries Are Ripe. Read more about August’s full Moon names here.

Credit: Charles O’Rear/Media Bakery

Viewing the Full Moon This Sunday

This weekend, when you gaze at the full Moon, contemplate the unique way that it mimics the behavior of the Harvest Moon and, indeed, acts perfectly identical to the Hunter’s Moon.

On top of that, this time around it forms conjunctions with the two largest planets throughout this weekend. And rises right around nightfall each evening. And hangs low in the east all during the convenient hours of dinnertime and dusk.

Yes, we’ve definitely got a weekend of Moons worth watching!

See all your full Moon dates.

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe