The full Moon has been shrouded in folklore and mystique for millennia, inspiring everything from religious festivals to outlandish doomsday conspiracy theories and horror films.

Each lunar cycle lasts just over 29.5 days, which means that the full moon tends to fall on a slightly different date each month (and even sometimes more than once, a phenomenon known as a “blue Moon”).

Here’s when the next full moon falls and the full lunar calendar in full for 2023, along with all you need to know about the rise in popularity of different moon names and phenomena such as a “supermoon” and “blood Moon”.

When is the next full moon?

The next full moon will fall on Tuesday 7 March, reaching its peak in the UK at 12.40pm, according to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

Its timings mean that the moon will be most clearly visible towards in the early morning of 7 March, as well as later that night. Here is the full calendar of full Moons for 2023:

  • 6 January (11.07pm)
  • 5 February (6.28pm)
  • 7 March (12.40pm)
  • 6 April (5.34am)
  • 5 May (6.34pm)
  • 4 June (4.41am)
  • 3 July (12.38pm)
  • 1 August (7.31pm)
  • 31 August (2.35am)
  • 29 September (10.57am)
  • 28 October (9.24pm)
  • 27 November (9.16am)
  • 27 December (12.33am)
An aircraft passes in front of the moon as it flies over London, Britain, February 6, 2023. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Traditions and rituals have surrounded the full moon for millennia (Photo: Reuters)

How did moon names become popular?

The majority of pre-modern calendars used the moon as the basis for the names of their months, a convention ended by the introduction of the solar Julian and Gregorian calendars.

In modern times, new names for the full moons – and their purported meanings – have infiltrated pop culture, generally attributed to Native American tribes.

There is no standardised Indigenous 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.

Giving each full Moon a distinctive name was a key way of keeping track of the seasons, essentially breaking the year down into months.

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 aren’t.

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 are essentially fabrications.

The American periodical Farmer’s Almanac, which seems to have been designated the gold standard for modern moon naming, first published its list of moon names in the 1930s:

  • 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

More from Science

What Moon phenomena are there?


The moon moves nearer and further away from the Earth at different points during its elliptic orbit.

When a full or new moon coincides with it reaching or approaching its closest point to the planet, it is known as a “supermoon”, with its proximity making it appear larger and brighter in the sky.

According to American astrologer Richard Nolle, it should be within 90 per cent of its closest approach to Earth in order to earn the label – around 225,000 miles.

Blue Moon

The time it takes for the full 12-moon cycle is around 11 days shorter than the Earth’s orbit of the sun.

This means that every so often, two moons will occur within one calendar month (with 13 in a year), a phenomenon which has become known as a blue Moon.

Interestingly, this is not the traditional definition of the concept, which is the third full moon in an astronomical season (as opposed to our calendar months) containing four full moons.

These seasons begin and end at the year’s two solstices and two equinoxes – there are usually three in each astronomical season, making 12 in total for the lunar year.

The Greenwich Observatory blames such “fake news spreaders” as 80s-era Trivial Pursuit for promoting the definition as the second full moon in a calendar month.

Although the phrase “once in a blue Moon” has come to mean a notably rare event, astronomically they occur with reasonable regularity – every two to three years on average.

Blood Moon

A “blood Moon” occurs during a total lunar eclipse, when it turns a reddish colour due to sunlight bending through the Earth’s atmosphere.

An eclipse takes place when the Earth comes between the Moon and the Sun, causing the planet’s shadow to cover the Moon.

Short wavelengths like blue and violet bounce off the Earth, while longer wavelengths like red and orange pass through, leading the Moon to glow in those colours.

According to conspiracy theories put forward by very fringe Christian groups, a blood moon heralds the onset of the apocalypse.

It is based on the biblical line “the Sun will turn into darkness, and the Moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes”.

By admin