Full moon May17_2011FEA

Full Thunder Moon Goes Boom-boom Tonight

Tonight’s the full Strawberry Moon. Pick a place with a wide open view to the southeast to watch it rise around sunset in the southeast. Photo: Bob King

Tonight the Full Thunder Moon (also called the Full Buck Moon) will rise around sunset in the southeast in the constellation Sagittarius. In Duluth watch for it to breach the horizon at 8:55 p.m. For moonrise times for your town, click HERE and add an hour for daylight saving time.

Early summer is when velvety antlers grow from the foreheads of buck deer, hence the traditional name. July’s full moon is also known as the Full Thunder Moon, since thunderstorms are common this month. One blasted through my town only last night.

Like the sun, the moon is colored a deep orange when rising or setting. That’s because we see we look horizontally through the thickest (lowest) part of the atmosphere at those times. The shorter wavelength greens, blues and purples are scattered away by the dense air leaving the yellows, oranges and reds to shine through.

The moon takes on a rich orange color near moonset last week. Our atmosphere acts to remove the shorter wavelengths of light (blues and greens), but the longer-wavelength red rays are able to penetrate the air to your eye. Photo: Bob King

All full moons are directly opposite the sun in the sky. Since the sun’s highest in the summer, the full moon occupies the place directly opposite that spot in the lowest part of the sky. The sun will occupy the spot the moon is in tonight later come this December.

For sky watchers living at mid-northern latitudes, the low-riding moon remains orange to yellow hued for much of the night, since it never climbs high enough to be seen through the thinner air overhead. That’s OK by me. I’ve always enjoyed seeing the yellow moons of June and July. The color is a perfect fit for the warmest season of the year.

9 Responses

  1. Mike


    Going to a 4th of July party out away from the city lights, I know we have the full moon tonight, but any suggestions on objects I could show people that wont be drowned out by the moon? I have an 8in Dob, able to go to 120x.

    Thanks for any suggestions, and happy 4th of July!


    1. astrobob

      Hi Mike,
      I’d head straight for Saturn, make a hard left and go to Albireo (double star in Cygnus) and then swing around to Mizar and Alcor in the Big Dipper. Early on, before the moon becomes too bright, you might consider the globular M4 in Scorpius near Antares.

  2. Saw it last night on a hot lazy hazy evening before the storms came.
    Cant the color of the moon be changed due to the fire/smoke from out west?

  3. kay syvrud

    Bob I just saw a picture of what is called “the eye of God”….it was a NASA photo.
    Have you heard of it?

  4. Stephan

    Hi Bob,
    a very clear sky lured me out of bed this (very) early morning, and I could watch the Seven Sisters, Jupiter and Venus rise in the North East, like on a string.
    A happy Fourth of July to you all,
    from Stephan
    in Stuttgart, Germany

    1. astrobob

      Hi Stephan,
      “Like on a string” – that’s a very nice way to put it. There’s a lot happening in that little part of the sky!

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