Is the May 2022 full moon tonight? When the blood 'Flower Moon' lunar eclipse is and how names gained traction
The next full moon of 2022 is almost upon us, with Brits hoping for a bright and clear weekend to grant a clear sighting of May’s orb – which coincides with a total lunar eclipse, known as a “blood moon”.
Shrouded in folklore and mystique for millennia, the full moon has inspired everything from religious festivals to horror films and outlandish doomsday conspiracy theories.
In recent years, it has also led to moon names infiltrating pop culture, with this month’s full moon dubbed the “flower moon” – here’s everything you need to know.When is the May 2022 full moon?
The next full moon falls on Monday 16 May, reaching its peak at 5.14am, according to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
This means that it will be at its most visible on the night of Sunday 15 May.
Although we tend to think of there being a full moon each month, the lunar cycle actually lasts just over 29.5 days, which means there is sometimes more than one (commonly known as a “blue moon”).
This also means that the full moon generally falls slightly earlier each month, with the full lunar timetable for 2022 as follows:
- 17 January
- 16 February
- 18 March
- 16 April
- 16 May
- 14 June
- 13 July
- 12 August
- 10 September
- 9 October
- 8 November
- 8 December
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is positioned between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the orb – the phenomenon tends to occur around three times a year.
When the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, its appearance changes, which is how it became known in some quarters as a “blood moon”.
This moniker stems for the fact that it can appear red when it passes through the Earth’s umbral shadow, as the only light hitting it has passed through the planet’s atmosphere.
Unlike a solar eclipse, all types of lunar eclipse are safe to view with the naked eye. The moon is reflecting sunlight, not producing it, so it doesn’t get any brighter than a full moon would usually be.When is the May 2022 lunar eclipse?
According to timeanddate.com, in the UK people should prime themselves for an early start as the eclipse will begin at 2.32am on 16 May.
There are three phrases: the penumbral, the partial eclipse and the full eclipse.
The Royal Observatory says the full eclipse will occur just before 4.30am with the entire eclipse lasting for more than five hours and ending at 7.50am.Why did names like ‘Flower Moon’ become a thing?
May full moon has come to be known as the “Pink Moon” in some quarters, as per the American Farmer’s Almanac, which has apparently been designated the authority on such matters.
The publication describes moniker’s origins thus: “In most areas of the northern hemisphere, flowers are abundant in late spring.
“Blossoms of brilliant color burst forth in both tree and meadow. Thus the name of May’s Moon, the Full Flower Moon.”
These moon names, and their purported meanings, have gained increased traction in recent years, with the labels generally attributed to Native American tribes.
They appear to have become more popular after the 2014 lunar eclipse – a phenomenon colloquially referred to a “blood moon,” due to it causing the moon to have a reddish hue – ignited interest in such romanticised names.
There is no standardised Native American calendar, according to Laura Redish, director and cofounder of Native Languages of the Americas, although Nasa says the names derive from the Algonquin tribe, part of a larger cultural linguistic group called Algonquian.
Some of the popularly used names, such as the “strawberry moon” and “harvest moon”, do seem to be Algonquin, according to a list published by Algonquin Nation Tribal Council in 2005.
Others, such as the “wolf moon,” aren’t – the tribe apparently referred to January as “long moon month”.
According to Ms Redish, different tribes used different calendars, and a range of calendars seem to have been swiped for the popularly used names, while some of the popular monikers are essentially fabrications.
The Farmer’s Almanac says its names “come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American and European sources”.