Stargazers are in for a treat this week: The full moon returns for its May engagement, peaking on Thursday morning.

May’s full moon is known as the flower moon, a reference to its appearance in late spring, when many flowering plants begin to bloom again after their winter slumber. The glowing orb will reach maximum illumination on Thursday at 9:53 a.m. ET, according to NASA.

The best time to view the moon, though, is at night on Wednesday and Thursday, since it will be below the horizon during its peak in some regions, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The flower moon will begin to rise after sunset on Wednesday, reaching its highest point after midnight, per EarthSky.

In some parts of the world, including the Washington, DC area, the full moon will come so close to the bright star Antares on Thursday night that the star will appear to vanish behind the moon, according to NASA.

The flower moon name is thought to have originated among the Algonquin people who live in Canada and parts of the northeastern United States, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. But ancient groups coined several creative names for May’s full moon that mark the arrival of warmer weather and the new life that grows during the spring.

Its old English name is “milk moon,” according to NASA, a reference to the archaic English word for the month we now call May. The eighth-century monk St. Bede the Venerable referred to May as the month of three milkings –– in the medieval era, people believed that cows could be milked at least three times daily in late spring.

Other names for May’s full moon include “frog moon,” from the Cree people of Canada’s North Plains — likely a nod to the spring peeper frog and its birdlike chirp, which is a harbinger of warm weather. The Dakota and Lakota people of the US Great Plains also called the celestial spectacle the “planting moon” to mark the agricultural practice of planting in the spring for a healthy harvest.

May Moon Names

Frog Moon (Cree). Ponies shed (Sioux). Bright moon (Celtic). Waiting Moon (Hopi). Mulberry Moon (Greek). Ninth Moon (Wishram). Idle Moon (Assiniboine). Big Leaf Moon (Mohawk). Panther Moon (Choctaw). Grass Moon (Neo-Pagan). Planting Moon (Cherokee). Corn Planting Moon (Taos). Little Corn Moon (Natchez). Green Leaf Moon (Apache). Corn Weed Moon(Agonquin). Field Maker Moon (Abernaki). Blossom Moon (Anishnaabe). Shaggy Hair Moon (Arapaho). Green Leaves Moon (Dakota). Fat Horses Moon (Cheyenne).

Leaf Tender Moon (San Juan). Hare Moon (Medieval English). Milk Moon (Colonial American). Strawberry Moon (Potawatomi). Hoeing Corn Moon (Winnebago). Alewive Moon (Passamaquoddy). Ninth Moon (Dark Janic), Mothers Moon (Full Janic). Flower Moon, Corn Plant Moon, Milk Moon (Algonquin).

Other Moon names : Frogs Return Moon, Sproutkale Moon, Dyad Moon, Merry Moon, Joy Moon


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