Fri. Jan 15th, 2021

Full Moon: Is it a Full Moon tonight? Why is the Moon so bright?

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The Moon rose in the east today (November 28) and will stay with us until Sunday morning. Viewed from London, the lunar orb crept up at 3.15pm GMT and is headed in a westerly direction. The Moon will set on Sunday morning at about 6.28am, and rise again about 20 later than today.

Although the Moon always rises in the east and sets in the west, it does so at a different time every day.

On average, the Moon rises about 50 minutes later each day due to a number of astronomical factors.

As the lunar orb sails across the night sky, it moves by 12 to 13 degrees towards the east each day.

Astronomer Deborah Byrd of EarthSky said: “Earth has to rotate a little longer to bring you around to where the Moon is in space.

“Thus the Moon rises, on average, about 50 minutes later each day.

“The later and later rising times of the Moon cause our companion world to appear in a different part of the sky at each nightfall for the two weeks between New and Full Moon.”

Is it a Full Moon tonight? Why is the Moon so bright?

Although the Moon might appear particularly bright tonight, it will not be “full” until Monday morning.

In astronomical terms, a Full Moon only lasts for a brief moment when the lunar orb is exactly 180 degrees away from the Sun.

As a result, the Moon’s Earth-facing Sun is entirely illuminated.

But the Moon appears full to the naked eye for about three days centred on the peak.

Ms Byrd said: “Remember that half the Moon is always illuminated by the Sun. That lighted half is the Moon’s dayside.

“In order to appear full to us on Earth, we have to see the entire dayside of the Moon.

“That only happens when the Moon is opposite the Sun in our sky. So a Full Moon looks full because it’s opposite the Sun.”

This Full Moon – the so-called Beaver Moon – will peak in brightness at about 9.29am GMT on Monday, November 30.

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Why is November’s Full Moon called the Beaver Moon?

There are typically 12 Full Moons each year, although a 13th Blue Moon sometimes creeps in.

Each of these full phases has a unique name, some of which are derived from Native American time-keeping traditions.

November’s Full Moon is popularly known as the Beaver Moon, the Frost Moon or the Geese-Going Moon.

The name is said to originate with Native Americans who named the phases of the Moon after the changing seasons.

For example, April’s Full Moon is known as the Pink Moon after a type of pink flower that blossoms in the spring.

Amy Nieskens of the Old Farmer’s Almanac said: “Centuries ago Native Americans kept track of the changing seasons by giving a distinct name to each Full Moon – names we still use today.

“November’s Full Moon was known as the Geese-Going Moon, the Frost Moon and perhaps the most well known, the Full Beaver Moon.

“Traditionally this is the time of year that beavers are preparing for winter and also the time to set traps before the swamps froze, to ensure supplies of warm winter furs.”

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