Full Thunder Moon

July 14, 2011; 6:02 AM ET
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It's not a big deal, just a catchy name. We just had to do a story on it!

Brace yourselves, for this week features the Full Thunder Moon!

The full moon this week occurs tonight, July 15 and unofficially marks the middle of the summer, or the middle of the hot weather season.

Will this full moon cause mere fair weather cumulus clouds to grow into violent thunderstorms? No.

Will there be lightning bolts flying out of the moon? No.

Could there be claps of thunder from nearby thunderstorms? Perhaps.

The reason for this full moon's nickname is that thunderstorms are quite frequent during the month of July.

The sun and the heating it generates are the driving force behind thunderstorms. However, due to seasonal lag, temperatures max out about a month later compared to the maximum of incoming solar radiation.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the incoming solar radiation reaches a peak in June, yet temperature averages reach their peak in mid-July in most areas.

Thunderstorm frequency follows the normal temperature curve (red) fairly closely.

The light cast by the full moon does not generate heat on Earth. There is debate as to whether or not the moon influences weather patterns on Earth.

Certainly the moon has an effect on tides, and solar eclipses have been known to have slight impact on daytime temperatures.

The July full moon has some more common nicknames as well: Full Hay Moon and Full Buck Moon.

July is the month when the antlers on buck deer poke through the top of the animals' heads.

It is also the month of the year when hay is frequently harvested. It's conceivable the full moon allows some farmers to work extra hours to catch up on their work, thanks to the natural night light.

The moon will officially be full on Friday, July 15, 2:38 a.m. EDT, or tonight, Thursday, July 14, 11:38 p.m. PDT.

It is a little early, but it seems the best viewing areas in North America will be in southeastern Canada, Northeast, Southwest, southern Plains, Texas and northeastern and Baja California, Mexico.

Get your cameras ready, just don't push the panic button!


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