The full Moon August 2023 is a fishy one indeed – the full “Sturgeon Moon.” Named for abundant fishing, particularly of lake sturgeon in late summer, the August Moon also has a variety of other names, each with connections to different cultures and the bounty of the season.
August 2023 Full Moon: Tuesday, August 1 (There will also be a Blue Moon on August 31 – Learn more!)
Peak Illumination: 2:32 p.m. Eastern Time
Why Is The August Full Moon The “Sturgeon” Moon
There are more than two dozen species of sturgeon in the world, but August’s “Sturgeon Moon” is related specifically to the lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), a North American freshwater fish that was once a critical food staple for many Native American tribes and settlers.
These fish have been widespread in the Mississippi River Basin, particularly in the Detroit River as well as the Missouri River and St. Lawrence River. In late summer, especially August, lake sturgeon can be abundant and easy to catch, especially throughout the Great Lakes and in Lake Champlain on the border between New York and Vermont. Today, lake sturgeon are more rare than in centuries past, but the “Sturgeon Moon” association remains.
Alternative Names for the August Full Moon
Just as all monthly full Moons have a variety of different names according to different cultures and in different parts of the world, the Sturgeon Moon isn’t the only name for August’s full Moon.
Many native peoples have full Moon names associated with various crops, harvests, and growing seasons, as the full Moon can be an indication of when it is time to take advantage of that bounty. Some names are more general, such as the “Harvest Moon” used by the Dakota, which is also a widespread name for August’s full Moon in China. “Moon of the Ripening” from the Lakota tribe has a similar connotation, indicating ripening harvests.
“Grain Moon” is an Anglo-Saxon name for the full Moon in August, while the “Green Corn Moon” or simply “Corn Moon” is used by the Algonquin and Ojibwe tribes, as well as in many Medieval English records. (Please note that some indigenous groups call September’s Moon the “Green Corn Moon” when it is not designated as the “Harvest Moon.”) The Ponca tribe of the southern plains use a more specific name, “Corn Is in the Silk Moon.”
Of course, summer is a time of bountiful harvests of all types of crops, and many peoples and cultures acknowledge the bounty most common in their regions with their names for the August full Moon. The Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of the northern plains and into Canada call this Moon the “Black Cherries Moon” in reference to ripening chokecherries, while the Shawnee tribe of Ohio and Pennsylvania have named this Moon the “Plum Moon” for those delicious fruits.
It isn’t just agricultural crops that can be abundant in August. In late summer, many waterfowl are molting as they prepare for their seasonal migration. When they shed feathers, these birds can be easier to hunt, and many native tribes also collected the feathers for cushioning, decorations, and other purposes. Thus, the August full Moon is called the “Feather Shedding Moon” by the Passamaquoddy tribe of the northeast, the “Geese Shedding Their Feathers Moon” by the Arapaho of the central plains, and the “Moon Young Ducks Begin to Fly” by the Cree of eastern and central Canada.
Not all full Moon names relate to plants, but may still connect to nature. In August, temperatures rise and streams and rivers can dry up, leading to the name “Dry Moon” by the Catawba of South Carolina, as well as the “Drying Up Moon” by the Cherokee in the central eastern United States. Similarly, the name “Hot Moon” from the Tunica tribe of Louisiana and the Shoshone tribe of Nevada and Wyoming references the season’s high temperatures.
The haze created by summer heat and dry conditions can lead to the illusion of a red hue to the full Moon in August, particularly when the Moon is seen in the early evening. “Red Moon” is a name used by many different cultures in many areas. Another late summer weather phenomenon is frequent lightning, and the name “Lightning Moon” for August’s full Moon is common in Europe and in Neo-Pagan traditions.
Extreme northern cultures, however, have very different weather and harvest conditions. The Tlingit tribe of the Pacific Northwest and into Alaska call the August full Moon “Mountain Shadows Moon” in reference to the changing angle of the Earth and how it impacts the look of the rugged mountains in those regions.
Of course, the same differences apply to the extreme south, and many cultures in the Southern Hemisphere have very different names for the August full Moon. “Snow Moon” is a popular one, as is “Storm Moon.” “Hunger Moon” refers not to weather, but to the scarcity of food during August, in the midst of the Southern Hemisphere winter.
Whatever August represents to you – good fishing, harvesting food, fresh summer corn, thunderstorms, heavy heat, or even mid-winter, there is a full Moon name perfect for the eighth month of the year.
Join The Discussion
What is your favorite name for August’s full Moon?
If you could rename the Sturgeon Moon, what would you call it?
Subscribe To The Farmhouse – Our Members-only Community!
Melissa Mayntz is a writer who specializes in birds and birding, though her work spans a wide range—from folklore to healthy living. Her first book, Migration: Exploring the Remarkable Journeys of Birds was published in 2020. Mayntz also writes for National Wildlife Magazine and The Spruce. Find her at MelissaMayntz.com.