Listen to today's episode of StarDate on the web the same day it airs in high-quality streaming audio without any extra ads or announcements. Choose a $8 one-month pass, or listen every day for a year for just $30.
You are here
There’s a full Moon tonight, with the brilliant planet Jupiter hanging close by.
As the first full Moon after the Harvest Moon, this one’s known as the Hunter’s Moon. It might not hold the same place in the American heart as the Harvest Moon, but in centuries past, it was just as important. Its light made it easier for hunters to find game in the bare fields, allowing them to stock up for the coming winter.
It was important for cultures all across the northern hemisphere — especially at higher latitudes, where the winters were darker and colder. But the name of the Hunter’s Moon came from the native cultures of North America. In fact, that’s where the names of almost all the full Moons came from.
All the names reflect the season in which the Moon appears. So in winter we have the Frost Moon and Wolf Moon — times of cold and want. And in summer — a time of warmth and abundance — we have the Strawberry Moon, Grass Moon, and Honey Moon.
European settlers adopted the names and brought them back to their homelands. So the name “Hunter’s Moon” first appears in Europe in the early 1700s.
Here in the U.S., the name has become more popular in recent decades. It’s been the title of several movies and TV episodes, novels, songs and albums, and video games. There’s even a Hunter’s Moon festival in Indiana — a throwback to centuries past, when grateful people celebrated the bounty made possible by the Hunter’s Moon.
Script by Damond Benningfield