We’ve just had a ‘Strawberry’ Moon – so where do all these Moon names come from?

total lunar eclipse
A 'Blood' Moon happens briefly during a total lunar eclipse. (Image credit: NASA)

The Royal Museums at Greenwich, London, are a mine of information about this and other lunar topics. 

Royal Museums Greenwich comprises the Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House, The Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre and the Caird Library and Archive. Part of its role is to educate about the exploration of space.

Names given to full Moons

Here’s the Museums’ list of the 12 new moons seen every year (occasionally there might be 13) :

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: Full Corn Moon
October: Hunter’s Moon
November: Beaver Moon
December: Cold Moon

To photograph the Moon you need a tripod, patience and – above all – planning. (Image credit: Digital Camera World/Jason Parnell-Brookes)

‘Blood’ Moon, ‘Blue’ Moon and ‘Harvest’ Moon

A ‘Blood’ Moon happens during a total lunar eclipse. This is when the Earth passes between the sun and a full Moon, casting the moon briefly into shadow. When this happens, the Moon takes on a strong, reddish brown color completely unlike its normal appearance. 

How to photograph a Blood Moon

A ‘Blue’ Moon is a comparatively rare event, hence the saying “once in a blue moon”. The Moon’s 12 annual cycles actually happen over 254 days, so periodically there will be a 13th full moon in the year – a ‘Blue’ moon. There are other historical orgins, and sometimes a ‘Blue’ Moon has been associated with atmospheric changes and disturbances rather than the lunar cycle.

And then there’s the ‘Harvest’ Moon. This is the closest full Moon to the autumnal equinox, or harvest time. The story is that the light of the Harvest Moon allows farmers to carry on collecting crops long into the night.

Not all of these 'Moons' are significant for photographers. The exception is the 'Blood' Moon – and one more the 'Supermoon'. A 'Supermoon' is when a full Moon co-incides with the Moon's closest point to the Earth (it has an elliptical orbit), so it appears slightly larger. However, when the Moon is low in the sky its proximity to recognisable objects on the horizon can also make it appear exceptionally large.

Read more:

How to photograph the Moon
Best telescopes for astrophotography
Astronomical events in 2022

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at fotovolo.com but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at lifeafterphotoshop.com