If you are disappointed about the lack of fireworks, don’t be, just look to the sky for a celestial “fireworks” display. This coming holiday weekend, Mother Nature has planned her own program of fireworks! According to the Institute for American Indian Studies, the full moon on July 4 and 5 is called the Buck Moon or the Thunder Moon according to Native American traditions. This full moon will be enhanced by two shining planets, Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system with four moons and Saturn.
Jupiter will be very bright and hover to the moon’s upper right while Saturn, one-third as bright will appear to stand off to the moon’s upper left. Taken together they will form a triangle in the sky. If you have a small telescope or a pair of binoculars you will get a better view of Jupiter along with all four of the Galilean satellites that include Io, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto. They were first seen by Galileo over 400 years ago.
Like June’s full moon, the full moon of July brings about a penumbral eclipse, which occurs when the moon crosses through the faint outer edge of the Earth’s shadow called a penumbra. When this occurs, the moon appears to be slightly darker than usual. This eclipse will be visible from most of North America including Connecticut and will begin at 11:04 Eastern Standard Time on July 4 and end at 1:56 a.m. If you miss it on July 4, check the sky on July 5 at 10:56 p.m. The Buck moon will appear the biggest to the naked eye on the U.S. East coast during and just after moonrise.
The Algonquin people of the Eastern Woodlands did not record time by using months or calendars. They tracked time by observing the seasons and the lunar months and phases of the moon. The Algonquin people called the full moon in July the Buck Moon because at this time of year a buck’s antlers are growing daily. Another Native American name for the full moon in July is Thunder Moon because of the frequency of July thunderstorms. Colonial Americans adopted some of the Native American names for the full moon and, they are still in use today. Some of the most recognized names that come from the Algonquin people include the Harvest Moon, the Blue Moon, and the Supermoon.
The Institute for American Indian Studies is open Friday, July 3 until 4 p.m., closed Saturday, July 4, and open on Sunday, July 5 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. The indoor museum and outdoor village and trails are open. The Institute is located on 38 Curtis Road in Washington CT.