Full Moon May 2017: What is a "Flower Moon" and what time can you see it?

Full Moon May 2017: What is a "Flower Moon" and what time can you see it?
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Vigilant stargazers looking skyward Wednesday night can catch a glimpse of the "Flower Moon" full moon, an annual celestial occurrence in May celebrated by cultures around the world for what typically comes with it.

Almanac describes the Flower Moon as a seasonal event signifying an end to the frosts of winter and early spring.

The Ontario Native Literacy Coalition describes the Flower Moon season as a period to explore "spiritual essences." It's the time of year when more plants are blooming and fertility in animals, including human males, increases, as warmer temperatures make it safer to bear young, according to Almanac.

Space reports the moon will be at its fullest at exactly 5:42 p.m. EDT, but because it'll be below the horizon around that time in North America, most Americans won't be able to see it until about 8 p.m.  — at 7:49 p.m. in New York to be precise, according to CBS News.

On the other side of the planet, May's full moon has even greater significance.

Buddhist devotees wearing ceremonial dresses in Yangon, Myanmar celebrate the full-moon day of Kasone, also known as Buddha Day, by gathering to throw water at the foot of a Shwedagon pagoda's banyan tree on May 10, 2017.
Source: 
Thein Zaw/AP

A celebration of Buddha's birthday

Around this time of year, Buddhists in several countries celebrate the deity's birth on Buddha Day, also known as Vesak Day, the annual occasion when the full moon rises during the lunar calendar month of Vesakha, which usually happens in May or June, according to CNN.

Revelers throughout Myanmar, for example, mark the event with the Kason Bo Tree Water Festival, an yearly procession to neighborhood monasteries or pagodas when scented water is poured on Maha-Bodhi trees.

Buddhist devotees in Yangon, Myanmar celebrate the full-moon day of Kasone, also known as Buddha Day, by gathering to throw water at the foot of a Shwedagon pagoda's banyan tree on May 10, 2017.
Source: 
Thein Zaw/AP

South Koreans officially commemorated Buddha's birthday on May 3 this year, but the country began the month-long celebration in April with its annual Lotus Lantern festival parades and exhibitions in cities like Seoul.

Buddhists gather under colorful lanterns at the Jogye Temple in Seoul on April 29 as they celebrate the coming birthday of Buddha.
Source: 
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Buddhists carry colorful lanterns in Seoul on April 29 as they celebrate the coming birthday of Buddha.
Source: 
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Buddha's birthday is also a major event in China, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia where thousands of monks gather annually at the Borobudur Temple in Java, the largest Buddhist temple on the planet. 

The Borobudur Temple in Java, Indonesia where thousands of Buddhists gathered on May 10, 2017 to celebrate the annual Buddha Day.
Source: 
Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Revelers chant sutras and meditate before releasing a wave of glowing lanterns into the sky, according to CNN.

Lantern festival
Source: 
Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

So if you're not busy, don't forget to check out your May full moon!

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Chauncey Alcorn

Chauncey is a trending news writer at Mic. His work has also been featured in the New York Daily News and Fortune.com. Email him at chauncey@mic.com.

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