How Many Full Moons Are In A Year? The Answer May Surprise You
Astrologers explain why the number changes, once in a blue moon.
Full moons are some of the most powerful astrological aspects that occur on a regular basis. In fact, out of the eight stages in the lunar cycle, the full moon marks the height of the moon’s energy. This energy can then be used to push along your manifestations, amplify your intentions, and illuminate and release whatever is not serving your highest good. Safe to say, full moons are the energetic GOAT if you know how to work with them. And unlike eclipses, they happen all the time. So, how many full moons are in a year, anyway? The answer isn’t quite as straightforward as you might think.
When looking at it through an astrological lens, it helps to define what a full moon is. “Overall, full moons are basically when the sun and the moon are opposite each other during the lunar cycle,” astrologer Indigo Witt tells Elite Daily. New moons, she says, “are when the sun and the moon are exactly conjunct and the same sign by degree.” This explains why you can’t actually see the moon during a new moon: The two celestial bodies aren’t in position for the moon to reflect the sun’s light the way they are when they’re in opposition during a full moon, hence why it looks “full” and bright and big. So when you’re looking at how many full moons are in a year, you’re really looking at how many times the sun and the moon are making this opposition aspect with each other. Below, the pros whittle down the deets of this mysterious luminary.
How Many Full Moons Are In A Year?
If your mind immediately goes to the fact that there are 12 months in a year, so there are probably 12 full moons, you’re on the right track. However, this isn’t always the case. According to professional astrologer Taryn Bond, “There are typically 12 [full moons in a year], but there can sometimes be 13.” This comes back to the fact that moon cycles aren’t perfectly lined up with the Gregorian calendar months.
“Basically, the moon cycle is almost as long, but not exactly as long, as a calendar month,” Bond clarifies. “It’s a little bit shorter.” Because the timing isn’t perfectly matched up, she notes that sometimes there can be a full moon at the beginning of a month, then a second full moon at the end of it.
A second full moon occurring in one calendrical month is what’s known as a blue moon, and it happens about every 2.7 years (you’ve probably heard the phrase “once in a blue moon” denoting a rare occasion). But as far as how many full moons are in a year? Two full moons in one month equals more than a perfect 12 per year. So while usually there are 12 full moons per year, once in a blue moon, there are 13.
How Long Is The Lunar Cycle?
A typical calendar month will be 30 or 31 days long, February aside (Aquarius just *has* to be different than everyone else, doesn’t it?). However, the moon cycles through its eight phases in about 29 and a half days, according to Bond. “So every 29 and a half days is how often [full moons] occur,” she says. Basically, it takes about as long as a leap year February for the moon to hit the new, first quarter, full, last quarter, and back to new phase again.
But things also get a little subjective here. According to Bond, “In astrology, we consider full moon energy to really be present for about three days.” If you’re not speaking from an astrological perspective, the full moon is just that one day, every 29 and a half days. But for the cosmic folks, this cumulative energy is felt a little before and a little after the big day. “So like a day and a half on either side of the exact opposition,” she says. “With that, it wouldn't be exactly 29 and a half days [between the energy of full moons].” Technically, the exact moment of the full moon happens within this stretch, but you can feel it for longer, so it depends on your perspective.
The moon is known to be a rather mysterious planet in astrology, so it’s no surprise that it can be difficult to get a straight answer out of her. Whichever way you crack it, there ends up being a solid one moon per month most years, with a rare two occurring every so often.
Taryn Bond, professional tropical astrologer practicing synthesis of evolutionary, modern, traditional, and intuitive techniques rooted in a humanistic, soul-based astrological approach
Indigo Selah-Jael Witt, astrologer and Tiktok content creator focusing on interpreting the stars, spirituality, and pop culture