July’s Full Moon is Special For a Number of Reasons

    Fenton, MI — July 15, 2019

    Tomorrow, July 16, 2019, this month’s full moon will stare down at the inhabitants of our planet. Timing is everything and a number of events coincide with this month’s complete lunar display.

    50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Misson

    Image Courtesy of NASA

    At 9:32 am on July 16, 1969, the Saturn V rocket carrying the Apollo 11 crew lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E.(Buzz) Aldrin Jr. begin their historic journey that will land Armstrong and Aldrin on the lunar surface.

    After a three day flight to the moon, their spacecraft entered lunar orbit. On July 20th Armstrong and Aldrin left the command module with Collins piloting it alone. Their lunar module descended to the surface where they spent 21 hours and 36 minutes exploring our closest celestial neighbor.

    Photo courtesy of NASA

    Returning to earth and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 their successful mission turned them into instant celebrities. Those of us fortunate enough to have lived that moment in history will no doubt stare up at the Full Moon and remember the national pride that overwhelmed us as our country made good on President Kennedy’s challenge issued in a speech before Congress earlier that decade.

    Lunar Eclipse

    July 16th is also the date of a partial lunar eclipse.

    Photo Courtesy of NASA

    Unfortunately, the display will not be visible in North America. It’s not too late to book a flight to Europe where the event will be shown in its entirety. Subject to cloud cover restrictions. According to NASA, this is a Saros 139 cycle eclipse. Here are the technical details.

    “The periodicity and recurrence of lunar (and solar) eclipses is governed by the Saros cycle, a period of approximately 6,585.3 days (18 years 11 days 8 hours). When two eclipses are separated by a period of one Saros, they share a very similar geometry. The two eclipses occur at the same node with the Moon at nearly the same distance from Earth and at the same time of year. Thus, the Saros is useful for organizing eclipses into families or series. Each series typically lasts 12 to 15 centuries and contains 70 or more lunar eclipses.”

    “Lunar eclipses of Saros 139 all occur at the Moon’s descending node and the Moon moves northward with each eclipse. The series began with a penumbral eclipse near the southern edge of the penumbra on 1658 Dec 09. The series will end with a penumbral eclipse near the northern edge of the penumbra on 3065 Apr 13. The total duration of Saros series 139 is 1406.35 years.” In summary:

    First Eclipse = 1658 Dec 09 20:10:47 TD
    Last Eclipse = 3065 Apr 13 05:10:23 TD

    Duration of Saros 139 = 1406.35 Years

    Aren’t you glad you learned that?

    The “Buck” Moon

    In an oddity of timing, July 2019 has two New Moons. The first occurred on July 2nd and the second will appear on July 31st. Native Americans named the monthly moon phases to help keep track of time and events. The July full moon is called the Buck Moon, as it appears around the time that male deer antler growth nears its peak and they begin to lose their velvet covering.

    The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists this year’s Full Moons with their Native American name. click on the links for a brief explanation courtesy of the Almanac.

    Date Time Native American Name
    January 21 12:17 A.M. Wolf Moon
    February 19 10:53 A.M. Snow Moon
    March 20 9:43 P.M. Worm Moon
    April 19 7:12 A.M. Pink Moon
    May 18 5:11 P.M. Flower Moon
    June 17 4:31 A.M. Strawberry Moon
    July 16 5:39 P.M. Buck Moon
    August 15 8:31 A.M. Sturgeon Moon
    September 14 12:35 A.M. Harvest Moon
    October 13 5:10 P.M. Hunter’s Moon
    November 12 8:37 A.M. Beaver Moon
    December 12 12:14 A.M. Cold Moon


    A total of 12 men have walked on the moon. In this century it’s likely that travel to the earth’s only natural satellite will become commonplace. Private industry will surely sell tickets to moon fights and landings to explore areas of the surface. But, it’s still free to gaze at, photograph, and dream about. Try it tonight.

    Photo Courtesy of NASA