The first full moon of 2022 is due to arrive in just a few days’ time, and will be known as the Wolf Moon.
January’s full moon will technically occur on January 17 at 6:48 p.m. ET according to NASA skywatching blogger Gordon Johnston. However, the full moon will be visible for about three days around this year, starting on Sunday evening.
The origin of the Wolf Moon’s name is thought to link back to the howling of wolves heard around this time of year.
Traditionally, it was thought that this was due to hunger, but now it’s known that wolves howl for a variety of reasons according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which lists full moon names for every month of the year, gathered from historical sources around the world.
For example, other full moon names for January include the Severe Moon and Hard Moon, used by the Dakota Native American people to reflect the harsh coldness of the season, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
The full moon in January has significance for other cultures as well. In the Hindu calendar, it marks Shakambhari Purnima, the last day of the eight-day Shakambhari Navratri holiday which celebrates the goddess Shakambhari, according to Johnston.
A full moon occurs when the moon appears as a complete circle in the sky—a phenomenon that occurs roughly once every 29.5 days. This usually lines up with the months of the year, but occasionally a full moon will occur twice per month, commonly known as a blue moon.
The moon appears to change shape throughout the month because of its movement around the Earth. As the moon orbits our planet, the side of the moon that faces us receives a different amount of the sun’s light.
Sometimes only a tiny portion of the moon will be illuminated. When the moon has moved into a position such that the Earth is between it and the sun, then the side of the moon that faces us is fully illuminated by the sun’s light and we see a full moon.
After this month, the next full moon of the year will take place on February 16 and will be called the Snow Moon, according to the U.K.’s Royal Museums Greenwich.
Other popular skywatching opportunities include meteor showers and eclipses. However, there isn’t due to be one of either for a few months.
The next eclipse visible from North America will be the 15-16 May total lunar eclipse according to TimeAndDate. Lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes into the Earth’s shadow.
The next meteor shower is not due until April as January’s Quadrantid shower has now fizzled out. The shower will be called the Lyrids, and it is set to peak on April 21-22 according to the American Meteor Society. They’ll be followed by the eta Aquariids, which are due to peak on May 4-5.
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