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If you love the full Moon, then we have some good news for you and some bad news. The good news is that there’s a full Moon tonight. It’s known as the Hay Moon or Thunder Moon.
It’s also known as the Short Moon — and that’s where the bad news comes in. The name doesn’t have anything to do with the Moon’s physical size or appearance. Instead, it means that the Moon will be in view for a shorter time than any other full Moon of the year.
That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The summer solstice was just a few days ago — the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. So if the days are especially long, then the nights must be especially short.
The difference comes about because of Earth’s tilt on its axis. At this time of year, the north pole dips toward the Sun. As a result, the Sun soars high across the sky and remains in view for a long time — anywhere from about 13 to 15 hours for most of the United States.
The full Moon does just the opposite of what the Sun does. So right now, the Moon scuds low across the sky as seen from the U.S., and it’s in view for a short period of time — as little as about eight-and-a-half hours from states like Maine and Washington, and even less from Alaska.
Incidentally, this is the first of two full Moons for the month of July. The second comes on the morning of the 31st. It’ll be in view a little longer than tonight’s Moon. And it has its own special designation: the Blue Moon.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015