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May’s full moon names and observing notes 2014

April 2014 lunar eclipse
April 2014 lunar eclipse
D. Tondreau

This month’s full moon is most commonly known as the “Flower Moon”. May flowers are abundant in most areas. Other names include the “Full Corn Planting Moon, the “Milk Moon”, the “Hare Moon”, the “Grass Moon”, or the “Planting Moon”. The Lakota Sioux call it the “Moon of the Shedding Ponies”. The Nunamiut Eskimos called it the “Moon when the ice goes out of the Rivers”.

Technically the full moon is only a moment in time. That moment occurs at 1:17pm MDT on Wednesday, May 14 for Aurora, Colorado.

Take some time and watch the full moon rising in the early evening. All you need is a clear view of the eastern horizon. Binoculars can enhance the experience. Remember it is not the Moon rising, but the Earth rotating that makes the Moon appear to rise.

The Moon will look full on the evenings May 13, May 14, and May 15. So which is closest to the true full moon? Fortunately there is an easy way for the casual observer to tell which “full looking moon” is the full moon. A full moon always rises opposite the setting Sun. The Moon that rises within a half hour of sunset is the full moon. If the Moon is well above the horizon or has not risen until well after (greater than a half hour) sunset, it is not a full moon even though it looks like one. Let’s test it this month for Aurora CO.

May 13: The Moon rises well before sunset

Sunset: 8:04pm MDT

Moonrise: 7:10pm MDT

Difference: 54 minutes (Failed, Moon and Sun are not opposite)

May 14: The Moon rises within 30 minutes of sunset

Sunset: 8:05pm MDT

Moonrise: 8:15pm MDT

Difference: 10 minutes (Pass, Moon and Sun are opposite)

May 15: The Moon rise well after sunset

Sunset: 8:06pm MST

Moonrise: 9:18pm MDT

Difference: 1 hour 12 minute (Failed, Moon and Sun are not opposite)

This test works pretty much every time for any full looking moon. If the Moon looks full and is opposite the Sun in the evening or morning it’s full as this month’s data indicates. Take the time this month to see the difference.

A full moon is the only time the Moon is up all night and the only time a lunar eclipse can take place as it did last month. A full moon also sets in the west opposite the rising Sun. The morning of May 14 the Moon will set, and the Sun will rise at the same time, 5:46am. The bright star above the Moon is Saturn. Moonset over the front range on May 15 occurs at 6:34am MDT in the west. Sunrise is at 5:45am MDT in the east.

Look for the setting full moon over the mountains around 5:00am MST on May 14 and 5:45am MDT on May 15. If you have the time, observe the sunrise. They are usually pretty good here in Colorado.

Wishing you clear skies

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