Rare celestial coincidence earns May’s full moon an unusually long name
The eclipse – which is only visible in parts of Asia, Australasia and the Americas – will also give the moon a reddish appearance, earning it the moniker “Blood Moon”.
All of these names and terms combined mean it is referred to by some as the Super Flower Blood Moon, which will peak on 26 May but will be visible for a day on either side.
The “Flower” prefix comes from the name given to it by Native Americans and settlers to North America, with each month’s full moon given a different title that related to the time of year it appeared.
“This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance,” Nasa noted in a blog post.
Different tribes sometimes gave the same moon different names, for example the Anishnaabe Tribe from the Great Lakes gave May’s moon the name Blossom Moon, while the Cherokee Tribe from the East Coast called it the Planting Moon.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the following as the most popular Native American names for each month’s moon:
January – Wolf Moon
February – Snow Moon
March – Worm Moon
April – Pink Moon
May – Flower Moon
June – Strawberry Moon
July – Buck Moon
August – Sturgeon Moon
September – Harvest Moon
October – Hunter’s Moon
November – Beaver Moon
December – Cold Moon
The reason for naming each month’s moon was due to the importance of the lunar calendar among tribes for tracking the seasons.
“The early Native Americans did not record time by using the months of the Julian or Gregorian calendar. Many tribes kept track of time by observing the seasons and lunar months, although there was much variability,” the Almanac explains.
“For some tribes, the year contained four seasons and started at a certain season, such as spring or fall. Others counted five seasons to a year. Some tribes defined a year as 12 Moons, while others assigned it 13. Certain tribes that used the lunar calendar added an extra Moon every few years, to keep it in sync with the seasons.”
Occasionally a year has 13 full moons, such as in 2020. When this occurs, the 13th moon is usually referred to as a “Blue Moon”.