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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weathercatch: Bright glow of full moon on July 4 will offset fewer fireworks

By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

With firework celebrations scaled back or canceled this Fourth of July, the first full moon of summer 2020 will brighten the skies over Washington state.

A full “buck moon” – named after the time of year that male deers’ antlers are in full growth mode – will rise high on Saturday after sunset, reaching peak illumination at 9:45 p.m. If you miss it, try gazing skyward on Sunday night, when the moon will gleam brightly while appearing almost full.

A buck moon that coincides with Independence Day is a rare event. The last time it showed its full face was 46 years ago on July 4, 1974. After matching up this weekend, the two events won’t coincide again until July 4, 2031.

This Fourth of July, Mother Nature is giving us an opportunity to view the full moon against an ideal backdrop. The current forecast for the Inland Northwest calls for mostly clear skies and warm temperatures during Independence Day weekend, with only a few scattered clouds at night.

Warm, clear evenings are a big part of July’s magic. While a full moon was absent on July 4, 2019, skies were mostly cloud-free and temperatures reached a high of 79 during the day and 53 overnight. Similar pleasant conditions reigned in 2018. Five years ago, July 4 was clear and downright hot, which isn’t surprising considering that summer 2015 was the hottest and driest on record in Spokane and much of the Inland Northwest. You may recall the extreme drought conditions and massive wildfires our state experienced that season.

As for this Fourth of July, not only will we enjoy pleasant weather and a full moon, but a faint lunar eclipse, too.

Late that night, the full moon will pass through part of earth’s shadow, creating a penumbral eclipse that sharp-eyed night owls may notice as a shaded corner of the moon.

Massive, intricately choreographed firework displays above large crowds are largely canceled this July 4th to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Fortunately for us, the lunar sky show will go on.

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