Full Moon meaning: Why is September’s Full Moon called the Corn Moon?

The upcoming Full Moon is known by many names, including the Harvest Moon, Barley Moon and Corn Moon. It is the ninth Full Moon of the year and is expected to peak later this week. A Full Moon appears roughly every 29.5 days when the Moon finds itself directly across from the Sun.

Because the Moon does not shine with its own light, it goes through eight distinct phases throughout the Moon.

The phases unfold as the amount of sunlight falling on the Moon’s Earth-facing side changes.

Full Moons fall in the middle of this cycle, and the eight phases in order are New Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter and Waning Crescent.

The US space agency NASA said: “When sunlight hits off the Moon’s far side — the side we can’t see without from Earth the aid of a spacecraft — it is called a New Moon.

“When sunlight reflects off the near side, we call it a Full Moon.

“The rest of the month we see parts of the daytime side of the Moon, or phases.”

When is the September Full Moon?

The Moon will peak in brightness on Wednesday, September 2.

According to NASA, the Moon will be fully illuminated at about 6.22am BST.

And although the lunar phases will only last for a very brief moment, the Moon will appear full for about three days centred on the peak.

NASA said: “It rises almost exactly as the Sun sets and sets just as the Sun rises the next day.”

When sunlight reflects off the near side, we call it a Full Moon


What is the meaning behind the Corn Moon’s name?

Each of the Moon’s 12 full phases has a unique name that varies between locations and cultures.

Most popularly, September’s Full Moon is known as the Corn Moon or Harvest Moon.

The name is associated with the time time-keeping traditions of Native American tribes.

The names are meant to reflect seasonal changes in the landscape.

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Lunar expert Gordon Johnston of NASA said: “The Maine Farmer’s Almanac first published Native American names for the Full Moons in the 1930s.

“Over time these names have become widely known and used.

“According to this almanac, as the Full Moon in September and the last Full Moon of summer, the Algonquin tribes in what is now the northeastern USA called this the Corn Moon, as this was the time for gathering their main staple crops of corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice.”

In Europe, this Moon is also known as the Barley Moon, and in Thailand, it is the Modhu Purnima or Honey Full Moon.

The lunar phase corresponds with the Honey Offering Festival, which is a Buddhist celebration.

Mr Johnston said: “This festival is tied to a legend that an elephant and a monkey fed the Buddha when he was in the forest to bring peace between two factions, with the elephant offering fruit and the monkey offering a honeycomb.

“In Sri Lanka, this Full Moon is the Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya Day, commemorating the establishment of the Buddhist Bhikkhuni Order.”

More modern lunar names include GRAIL Moon and LADEE Moon, which stand for NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory and Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer respectively.

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