Tonight, on the evening of the 23rd into the morning of the 24th of May we will hopefully be treated to views of a beautiful full moon, weather permitting of course. This will be the third full moon of Spring.

Although the full Moon may not be the astro-photographers best of friends, the full Moon always makes for a beautiful sight in the night sky and is an important marker of seasons for many people.

May’s “Flower Moon” coincides with the flowering of many Northern hemisphere plants and is a sign of the typically warmer weather we begin to experience at this time of year.

If you would like to know more about this month’s full moon, including when and where to see the Flower Moon, please read on…


A full Moon occurs when its position in its orbit around Earth is at its furthest distance from the Sun (almost on the opposite side of the Earth compared to the Sun). When this happens, the side of the Moon that can be seen from Earth is completely illuminated, giving it the appearance of being full. 


This month, the Moon will reach peak illumination (100%) whilst it is still beneath the horizon for those of us in the UK at roughly 14:05 BST on the 23rd of May. The full Moon will rise on the 23rd of May at around 21:57pm from the South East. As the night progresses the Moon will climb in the sky travelling Southwards. The Moon will reach just over 9 degrees high at its highest point in the sky (also known as transit) at roughly 01:17am towards the South. Following this, the Moon will begin to descend travelling Westwards before setting in the morning skies at around 04:31am in the South West. 

You don’t really need to know the exact time of peak illumination to enjoy viewing the full Moon, as the Moon will appear full throughout the night and on the nights surrounding the peak.


This month, our natural satellite will be hitching a ride in the zodiacal constellation of Scorpius the scorpion.

The Moon can be found just less than 2 degrees to the right of Antares (the brightest star in Scorpius).

The constellation of Scorpius can be found below and left of the constellation Virgo the maiden and below the constellation Ophiuchus the serpent bearer.


Most full Moons derive their names from Native American tribes, which typically gave distinctions to Moons based on the time of year and the weathers relationships to crops harvests and appearance of certain animals.

The full Moon in May is often referred to as ‘The Flower Moon’ and it has been found that this name was attributed to the Algonquin peoples. The reason for this name is because this time of year was known to correspond with abundant springtime flowers and was even referred to as “The Month of Flowers” by Johnathan Carver in the 1798 publication, Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America. 

There is a myriad of wild flowers which bloom in May in the Northern Hemisphere, where these traditional full Moon names originated. For example, many types of anemones, wild garlic, indigo, bluebells, lupine, sundrops, and violets, to name just a few. It is no wonder that the colourful displays these flowers create in nature have inspired people to name this time after them.


Whilst most commonly known as The Flower Moon, there are plenty of alternative full Moon names, mostly referencing to the arrival of spring. Some of these names are as follows; The Budding Moon and Leaf Budding Moon (Cree) celebrate the awakening of local flora. Similarly, Planting Moon/Corn Planting Moon (Dakota, Lakota) marks the time when seeds should be started for the farming season ahead. 

Other names refer to the activities of animals that mark spring’s arrival. For example, the Egg Laying Moon and Frog Moon (Cree), as well as the Moon of the Shedding Ponies (Oglala). All three names indicate that warmer weather is on the way!

Some refer to the Full Moon in May as the Mother's Moon and Milk Moon in reference to the increased fertility and nurturing associated with the spring season. The Chinese refer to it as the Dragon Moon, the Celts the Bright Moon and some sources refer to it as Hare Moon, but this name is more common for the March Full Moon.


It's always lovely to watch the moon rise/set, so if you can head out to witness the Moon rise, please do. The Moon will appear full over the next couple of nights, so it's a great time to see it in all of its glory. Every time the Moon rises and sets it takes on a beautiful golden, amber colour and appears larger at this time too, due to an optical illusion known as the ‘Moon illusion’. It's truly special to witness. As it rises and glides overhead it’s colour will transition into a bright white. 

Sometimes the Moon can appear even more orangey red than usual too! The hue of the moon typically depends on atmospheric conditions wherever you’re viewing it from. Things like clouds, dust, haze, smoke or pollution can cause the moon to appear different colours by scattering much of the blue light shining onto our natural satellite, leaving it with a more reddish tone. 


The great thing about observing the Moon is that we don’t have to go and find a particularly dark location to view it. As the Moon is such a bright object in the sky, we can view it from brighter locations, even from the centre of a heavily light polluted city. Weather permitting of course. 


There are a number of other celestial treats about at this time of year too...  

- We have a small number of meteor showers active at this moment in time, including the tail end of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Although the full moon will drown out all but the brightest of these meteors, it is still worth keeping an eye out for those beautiful streaks of light known as shooting stars.

- The Milky Way core is out in all its glory in our late evening/early morning skies. The moonlight during the full moon may make the Milky Way almost impossible to see by eye whilst producing so much light. However, the Milky Way is certainly something to look out for or try to capture images of at this time of year when the Moon is not brightening our skies.  

- The asterism known as the Summer Triangle is a prominent asterism in our current night time skies and can help you find where to view our home galaxy the Milky Way. The brightest stars of the constellations Cygnus, Lyra and Aquila – the stars Deneb, Vega and Altair respectively, create a huge triangle in the night sky known as the Summer Triangle. They are located in a bright section of the Milky Way known as the Cygnus region. The body of the swan Cygnus also creates a cross like shape known as the Northern Cross. If you follow the length of the cross and continue tracing along the direction of this line, this can show you where the rest of the Milky Way stretches across the sky.

- Our closest galactical neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy in the constellation of Andromeda is always a spectacular sight through binoculars or a telescope. It is also the furthest thing away from our planet that the naked human eye can see too!

- The great Hercules globular star cluster M13 in the constellation of Hercules is an awe-inspiring sight when viewed through binoculars or a telescope and is also visible to the naked eye under favourable conditions. The glow from this Summer time treat created from a super dense concentration of stars is becoming easier to see in our night time skies and we recommend you try to find it with your binoculars or telescope.

- We are now nearing the end of the typical Aurora season, but it may not be over yet! The Aurora may still be seen dancing on our Northern horizons on nights of strong auroral activity. Typically, the bright Moon tends to drown the aurora out in more Southernly locations. However occasionally there are displays that are so strong that they are visible despite the moonlight.


If you own a pair of binoculars or a telescope, you can get an even closer look at the Moon, stars and other celestial treats, revealing fantastic details. The Moon with its mares and craters, the glowing Andromeda galaxy and radiant Hercules cluster are all amazing to view using binoculars or a telescope. 


We have attached one of our photographs of the Moon, and a still showing the placement of the Moon.

Good luck if you head out folks. Wrap up warm if you do. Any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

If you manage to capture any photographs, please feel free to share them on this post (Facebook) or tag Astro Dog. 😊

Clear skies 💖

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