Bright Moon on a Clear Night

Moon Glow at Rio

By Dana Millikin

The wispy clouds blew past and suddenly the Moon was so bright it cast shadows on the sandy bank. The river began to glow in this magic moment as the sliver light danced on the ripples and waves. The rushing water tumbling over the smooth rocks seemed to sing and the distant blackened mountains framed it all.

That’s what I could see as I peered out into the June night from my bedroom balcony at Rio Sierra Riverhouse last year. That image is burned into my memory bank and I get good mileage out of it now that I am back in the “real world.”  When I need a moment of bliss, I just remember that sight.

But I was at Rio when the moon was in its last quarter! What would it be like to be there during a full moon? Or even better a Supermoon?

A “Supermoon” is when a full moon coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth. Astronomers like to say they are “perigean full moons” because “perigee” is the point in the Moon’s orbit that is nearest to the Earth. But I think the term “Supermoon” is much more fun.

According to EarthSky.org writers and fellow sky lovers Deborah Byrd and Bruce McClure, “A Supermoon exceeds the area (disk size) and brightness of an average-size full moon by some 15 percent – and the smallest full moon or micro-moon (farthest from Earth) by some 30 percent. For a visual reference, the size difference between a Supermoon and micro-moon is proportionally similar to that of a U.S. quarter versus a U.S. nickel.”

Super Blood Wolf Moon

Moon Glow at Rio Dates for 2020

I have compiled a handy calendar to give you some ideas on when to “book your very own bliss” for Moon Glow at Rio.

Remember as “super” as a Supermoon is, a full moon is also a remarkable sight especially when it casts its silver light on the Kaweah River. Plus our magical Moon preforms its monthly grand illumination once a month all year long giving you a number of chances to enjoy the show!  (BTW--all phases of our celestial partner are glorious in their own special way.) Here's your Moon Glow Events calendar:

Each Month’s Full Moon Names and Dates for 2020

Did you know each full moon is very unique? All full moons have special names and special attributions. Different Native American nations, pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons and even English monks have handed down these special names for centuries. It’s a tradition that stems from the ancient practice of marking the passage of time and change of seasons by identifying lunar changes.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac shows how some of these names have been incorporated into our modern calendars. That’s because many of the full moon names are associated with farming.  I have collected some names for the full moons of each month from a number of different sources.  Now, you can choose which name best suits your own lunar pursuits.

January Full Moon (Jan. 10, 2020)--the most common name is the “Wolf Moon.” They say it is because during the bleak winter nights you could hear hungry wolves howling close to villages. Other names are Moon After Yule (Christmas), Old Moon and Ice Moon.

February Full Moon (Feb. 9, 2020)--This moon is most often called the “Snow Moon” because this is a month that much of the Northern Hemisphere is covered in snow. Some North American tribes called it the Hunger Moon due to scarce food and game at this time of year. The February moon is also called the Storm Moon.

March Full Moon (March 9, 2020--Supermoon)--This bright moon is called the “Full Worm Moon” because as the land begins to thaw earthworms start to be seen. This year 2020 it will be a Supermoon, so it will be a "Super Worm Moon!" Some call the March full moon a "Crow Moon," probably because those crows are spotting the tasty worms! Others called it the "Lenten Moon" because it is the last full moon of winter. And if you live where tapping maple trees for syrup is a thing, this is the time of the "Full Sap Moon" or "Sugar Moon." Super Sugar Moon sounds better than Super Worm Moon--ha!

April Full Moon (April 8, 2020--Supermoon)--Most refer to the full moon of April as the “Pink Moon” or the Sprouting Moon because spring flowers begin to appear. Its also has been called the "Egg Moon" because its when many birds begin laying eggs after winter.

May Full Moon (May 7, 2020--Supermoon)--“Flower Moon” is, of course, because April showers bring May flowers. Other names for this full moon include "Corn Planting Moon" and "Milk Moon" because it is a time when cows, goats and sheep have plenty to eat and therefore produce plenty of milk.

Bright Moon Through the Trees

June Full Moon (June 5, 2020)--You have to love the name “Strawberry Moon.” I bet you can figure out this one. Yes, it is because it's time to harvest many types of fruit. June's full moon is also called the “Honey Moon.”  During pagan times June weddings were celebrated by drinking a spirit called “mead” made from honey. Mead was believed to be an aphrodisiac and the Honey Moon was to mark the period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newly wed couple. The “moon” part was to remind the couple of the “waning” nature of marital bliss.

July Full Moon (July 5, 2020)--This moon is called the “Buck Moon” because it was the time when new antlers begin to appear on deer buck’s foreheads. It is also called the "Thunder Moon" because July can be a time of thunderstorms.

August Full Moon (Aug. 3, 2020)-- If you live in the American Northeast, sturgeon fish are most plentiful in August, hence the “Sturgeon Moon.” It is also called a "Red Moon" because it rises many times through a summer haze that gives the moon a reddish glow.

September Full Moon (Sept. 2, 2020)--This full moon will be the "Corn Moon" because it is near harvest time. However, it will not be the  “Harvest Moon” in 2020 because it is not the closest full moon to the Fall Equinox (September 22, 2020) Another name for September’s full moon is the "Barley Moon."

October Full Moon (Oct. 1, 2020)-- This year 2020 October full moon is the "Harvest Moon" because it is the closest full moon to the date of the Fall Equinox. (September 22, 2020) Other years October's full moon is it’s known as the “Hunter’s Moon” because it is a time to hunt and preserve meat and other food for the long winter ahead.

October Special Moon "Treat" (October 31, 2020)--On Halloween night we will have what is called a "Blue Moon!" This is when where are two full moons in the same month. The second full moon in a month is called the "Blue Moon." This is where the saying, "Once in a Blue Moon" comes from because this is a very rare happening. A real Halloween night treat for sure!

November Full Moon (Nov. 30, 2020)--According to folklore this full moon is a “Beaver Moon” because beavers are actively preparing for winter. It’s also known as a "Frosty Moon," and because it is the last full moon before the Winter Solstice, it is called the "Mourning Moon."

December Full Moon (Dec. 30, 2020)--This month's name is an obvious one. The full moon in December is known as the “Cold Moon.” It’s also called the “Long Night’s Moon” because the nights in December are the longest of the year.

I hope you enjoy the Moon Glow shows where ever you are this year. And I hope you get a chance to see the moonlight dancing on the river at Rio Sierra Riverhouse.

-DM