July’s full Moon orbits closer to Earth than any other full Moon this year, making it the biggest and brightest supermoon of 2022. During the 13 July supermoon, the Moon appeared as much as 14 per cent brighter and 30 per cent brighter, according to Space.com. But it is unlikely that you would have been able to spot this difference with your naked eyes. Nonetheless, it’s fun to know that the full Moon you’re looking at is the closest, biggest, and brightest of the year.
The difference in distance between the Earth and the Moon happens because the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle. The Moon lies at an average distance of 382,900 kilometres from the Earth but its apogee and perigee (closest and farthest points from the Earth) change every month. This happens because the shape of the Moon’s orbit changes over time due to the influence of the Sun and other planets. But one thing that is out of the ordinary is when a full moon happens at the same time as an extreme perigee.
For Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, this year’s 13 July full Moon is Guru Purnima (Guru Full Moon), celebrated as a time for clearing the mind and honouring the guru or spiritual master. Guru is the person, who shows the right path and enlighten us with knowledge and who brings us out to the light from the darkness. In the yogic tradition, the day is celebrated as the occasion when Shiva became the first Guru, as he began the transmission of Yoga to the Saptarishis. Many Hindus celebrate the day in honor of the great sage Vyasa, who is seen as one of the greatest Gurus in ancient Hindu traditions and a symbol of the Guru-Shishya Tradition.
The Algonquin tribes of what is now the northeastern United States called this the Buck Moon. Early summer is normally when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. They also called this the Thunder Moon because of early summer’s frequent thunderstorms.
The Europeans called this the Hay Moon for the haymaking in June and July, and sometimes the Mead Moon (although this name was also used for the previous full moon). Mead is created by fermenting honey mixed with water, sometimes adding fruits, spices, grains, or hops.
For Theravada Buddhists, this full moon is Asalha Puja, also known as Dharma Day or Esala Poya, an important festival celebrating the Buddha’s first sermon.
As the full moon day of Waso (the fourth month of the traditional Burmese lunisolar calendar), this is the start of the three-month annual Buddhist retreat called Vassa.
Several other names for this month’s Moon also reference animals, including Feather Moulting Moon (Cree) and Salmon Moon, a Tlingit term indicating when fish returned to the area and were ready to be harvested. Plants are also featured prominently in July’s Moon names. Some of our favorites are Berry Moon (Anishinaabe), Moon When the Chokecherries are Ripe (Dakota), Month of the Ripe Corn Moon (Cherokee), and Raspberry Moon (Algonquin, Ojibwe).