Snow Moon or Groundhog Moon may forecast February weather

 

Full Moon taken in October ((J Jacobs photo)
Full Moon taken in October ((J Jacobs photo)

It may be hard to believe our calendar page is about to say February. Given the popular name for February’s full moon, the Snow Moon, and the cold weather forecasted for the end of January, we may want to turn to another name for the month’s full moon, the Groundhog Moon.

Maybe that creature whose appearance sometimes forecasts an early Spring for farmers will bring good news on Feb. 2, this year. That date is just before the moon has full illuminations on Feb. 5 at 12:28 p.m. CT in 2023. 

Because it technically becomes full in the afternoon when below the horizon, sky wsatchers might consider it seems quite full Feb. 4 and definitely, Feb. 6.

However, even full it will appear smaller than usual because, as with January’s full moon, February’s is a Micromoon. The opposite of a Supermoon that appears large because its orbit is close to Earth, the Micromoon’s orbit takes it farthest from Earth when full. 

 Time and Date has an excellent discussion on February full moon names, where the snowiest place is in the US. It quotes Climatologist Brian Brettschneider who says Valdez, Alaska is snowiest incorporated city and that east of the Rockies the area is at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Observatory.

Time and Date also has an excellent explanation of  Micromoons.  

Besides snow, the Old Farmer’s Almanac says Native American tribes often name the February full moon for animals. I like that some Algonquins call it the Groundhog Moon.

Other tribal names include the Bald Eagle Moon or Eagle Moon named by the Cree and the Bear Moon so named by Ojibwe.

 

Sky watch meteors and full moon

 

Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)

New Year’s Eve fireworks kept sky watchers engrossed as TV stations moved across the world to different time zones and countries Dec. 31, 2022.

Then nature followed with the Quadrantids meteors. Begun Dec. 28, it peaks pre-dawn Jan. 3 to Jan 4 in 2023. Their “parent” is the Asteroid 2003 EH from the defunct constellation Quadrans Mualis.

They seem to radiate from a point east of Ursa Minor (The Little Dipper) but can be seen anywhere in a clear sky. The problem will be the moon which will be waxing gibbous on its way to full illumination Jan. 6.

For best time to watch and where in your region check TimeandDate Quadrantids

Next looking up, is a Mircromoon. Called the Wolf Moon, January’s full moon is considered a Micromoon because it appears smaller due to its orbit which takes it far from Earth (as opposed to a Supermoon which appears large because it is close to Earth).

The January 2023 full moon reaches full illumination at 5 p.m. CST Jan. 6,  but will appear full the day before and day after. Some Native Tribes have called it the Wolf Moon because wolves tend to howl more in January.

Read more about the January moon’s names in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

 

Brr December Moon

 

Full Moon (J Jacobs photo)
Full Moon (J Jacobs photg)

That bright white orb in the sky already looks like it is full, but it reaches complete illumination Dec. 7 at 11:09 p.m.

Called the “Cold Moon,” an appropriate Mohawk tribe name considering the temps in the northern latitudes, its high trajectory will make it appear in the sky longer and fuller Dec. 6-9.

Because of its long appearance at night the Mohican tribe calls it the “Long Night Moon.” The December full moon appears a couple of weeks shy of the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21 in 2022, so comes when days are shorter. 

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, other the Native American tribes have other seasonal names. The Cree tribe has used “Drift Clearing Moon,” “Frost Exploding Trees Moon and Hoar Frost Moon. The Haida and Cherokee tribes have called it “Snow Moon.”

In old Anglo-Saxon times, the December full moon was called the Moon before Yule.

 For more insight into full-moon names plus seasonal and celebration names visit Time and Date.

Along with its long night, another phenomenon of the 2022 December full moon is that Mars will be blocked by the moon on Dec. 7.  Called an “Occultation, the planet, moon, Earth and Sun will be in perfect alignment.   Space and Scientific American explain what it is and who can see it when. 

 BTW, Mars will appear very bright earlier before it starts to disappear when its eclipse begins (different times according to where you live) so start looking for it in early evening. 

 

November full moon plays hide and see

While politicians are busy making last minute pitches on US Election Day Nov. 8, 2022 to influence the course of history, our astrological world is busy following its own course.

November’s full moon, called the Beaver Moon because that creature is about ready to shelter in the lodge it created and stored with food for the winter, will appear full and bright the night of Nov. 7. But, it reaches full bright illumination early the following morning at 6:02 a.m. EST Nov. 8 and will still look full Nov. 9. 

Continue reading “November full moon plays hide and see”

Hunter Moon appears large and bright for several nights

Fall full moon (J Jacobs photo)
Fall full moon (J Jacobs photo)

Don’t be surprised to find a large, bright orb peering into your windows this weekend.

October 2022’s full moon is technically Oct. 9 with full illumination at 4:54  p.m. ET. but it will look full Oct. 8- Oct. 11 due to it’s orbit in relation to the Sun and Earth.

 It will also look larger and more luminous than some of the year’s other full moons because it will appear at sunset when the sky is glowing

What’s in a name?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains that unlike folklore and native American names for full moons, The Harvest Moon and Hunter Moon are related to the autumn equinox.

 The Harvest Moon was the full moon closest to the fall equinox on Sept. 22 and so the October full moon is the Hunter Moon because that is the name of the moon that follows the Harvest Moon.

EarthSky  an excellent, on-line source of moon and planetary information, points out that the Harvest and Hunter moons relate to the season when autumn starts because of the moon’s orbital path at that time. That means that in the Northern Hemisphere the moon will appear bright in the east just as the sun is setting in the west for several nights.

 

 

  

Harvest Moon is on the horizon

September's full moon is the Harvest and Corn Moon. (J Jacobs photo)
September’s full moon is the Harvest and Corn Moon. (J Jacobs photo)

As you begin to see more fresh corn in farmers markets and grocery stores and more leaves dotting the grass and walkways, you know our food is entering the harvest season. So, no surprise that the September full moon is called the Full Harvest Moon and the Corn Moon.

Actually, Harvest Moon is the designated name according to when the full moon is closer to the Fall Equinox. In 2022, that applies to the September full moon because the Autumnal or Fall Equinox is Sept. 22.  Visit Autumnal Equinox at the Old Farmer’s Almanac for this designation of when fall begins. (Meteorologists like to say Sept. 1 is the first day of fall.)

Start watching the moon grow fuller and brighter this first full week of September. In 2022, the moon will begin to appear full Sept. 8 and really seem full blown Sept. 9, but it will reach its full stage early in the morning of Sept. 10. 

BTW, next month’s full moon is Oct. 9, a few days more than September’s past the Fall Equinox. It will be the Hunter Moon. 

Maybe you’ll notice that the Harvest Moon is particularly good for bringing in crops. Nearing fall, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each evening. But that changes in September for areas in the mid-northern latitudes where moon rising is only 20 minutes later due to a shallower eclipse angle of Earth to Sun. 

It is not a Supermoon but unlike other months’ full moons, the Harvest  Moon rises around sunset for several evenings. That early rising frequency and lengthy moon lit twilights allow farmers more time to do their harvesting before the nights turn really frosty.

In addition, the moon will look totally full through Sept. 11.  For more Harvest Moon info visit Farmer’s Almanac. For more full moon names visit Time and Date. For good, basic Earth to Sun angles visit Earth/Sky and ecliptic

 

 

 

Meteors and Supermoon compete for attention

 

Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Meteor shower (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Circle Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022 on the calendar or make a note on the smart phone for a double sky phenomenon. But one sky event may make it hard to see the other.

The Perseids, arguably the best meteor shower of the year, already started July 17 but continues through Aug. 24. It peaks Aug. 12-13 with from 50 to 100 meteors zooming across the sky per hour.

The meteors are debris from parent comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle whose radiant is the Perseus constellation in the northeastern sky. The greatest number of meteors will be visible after the radiant rises, according to Earth SkyThe radiant rises around 11 p.m. CT, nearly due northeast in Perseus so the Perseids are best viewed from midnight to sunrise. 

Perseus was the Greek mythological hero who stopped (beheaded) Medusa the Gorgon (Maybe you’ve seen the TV ad where Medusa enters a bar and turns guys to stone).

The problem: August’s full moon, glowing in the sky Aug. 11-13 is the fourth and last supermoon of 2022. As a supermoon whose orbit brings it closer to earth than most moons come the rest of the year, it looks larger and brighter than usual. That large illumination makes it harder to spot meteors.

July's full moon was a supermoon because its orbit brought it so close to Earth. (J Jacobs photo)
July’s full moon was a supermoon because its orbit brought it so close to Earth. (J Jacobs photo)

“Sadly, this year’s Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters,” said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, who leads the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

“Most of us in North America would normally see 50 or 60 meteors per hour,” he said, “but this year, during the normal peak, the full Moon will reduce that to 10-20 per hour at best,” said Cooke.

Aptly named, at least for 2022’s August Supermoon, this full moon is called the Sturgeon Moon after the giant fish found in the Great Lakes that is often caught the last month of summer.  A good source for full moon names is The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The sturgeon is considered a “living fossil” for its beginnings about 136 million years ago.

(For information on when to watch for the Perseids in your area visit Time and Date.)

 

July has largest looking full moon of the year

July full moon is a supermoon because it is so close to Earth. (J Jacobs photo)
July full moon is a supermoon because it is so close to Earth. (J Jacobs photo)

If up and about the night of July 13, 2022 you likely had a bright light shining into you abode. It is best “supermoon” of 2022. But if the weather was bad, don’t worry. It still looks large and bright through Friday morning even though its full phase and peak illumination was July 13 at 2:38 p.m. EDT.

This July full moon appears larger than normal because its orbit brings it close to planet Earth. NASA’s Full Moon guide xxplains that astrologer Richard Nolle used the term “supermoon” in 1979 for a new or full moon within 90 Percent of perigee as its closest approach to Earth.

In other words, a supermoon looks larger but isn’t.

Full moons have been given names by Native Americans, Europeans and other groups usually according to nature, rituals, farm life and animal behavior.  July’s full moon is often known as the “Buck” full moon.

A good place to get more name infomation is the Old Farmer’s Almanac. It has a video that also talks about what has been left on the moon.

 

 

A very different full moon transforms the May sky

Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)

You won’t need special eye gear to watch an eclipse when Sunday, May 15, 2022 becomes Monday, May 16.

If following the names of full moons each month, you know they reflect the season and nature whether in Native Indian, European or religious context. So, you won’t be surprised that May’s full moon is also called the Flower Moon. Other names of the May full moon are Corn Moon and Milk Moon.

But, the full moon for May 2022 is also called the Blood Moon.

Watch the May Moon start out as a large, silvery somewhat yellowish (depending on where you are and your atmosphere), full-sized globe when it appears on your horizon.

It will seem larger than usual even though it hasn’t changed shape. The full moon is close to being a Supermoon because its orbit brings it so close to earth.

Keep watching to experience a lunar eclipse.

As it rises, it will move into Earth’s shadow. Remember at the height of a full eclipse you’ll have the Sun, Earth and Moon in a direct line.

It starts out in the penumbral, somewhat less noticeable phase, because the full May Moon is in the lighter part of the Earth’s shadow. It moves into our planet’s partial shadow at 9:32 p.m. EDT.

Watch as it looks as if a bite is being taken out of the Moon as it is in partial eclipse stage. The Moon will then move into the Earth’s full shadow for more than an hour: 11:29 p.m. on Sunday night until 12:54 a.m. Monday morning. The eclipse reaches its peak at 12:11 a.m. At the back end, the partial eclipse ends at May 16 at 1:55 a.m. EDT.

Its reddish, brownish color happens as the Earth’s atmosphere refracts some light from the sunrise and sunset conditions around our planet.

To find the sunrise and sunset times in your area visit the  Old Farmer’s Almanac which has a site calculator. Your time zone matters if watching the eclipse.

Another watch choice is at Time and Date which has a YouTube live stream connection.

For more May Moon information visit NASA . For the area covered by the eclipse see EarthSky. For information on how the lunar eclipse fits with April’s recent  partial solar eclipse visit Space.

 

 

 

 

April full moon Pink in name only

April's Full Moon is the Pink Moon ( J Jacobs photo)
April’s Full Moon is the Pink Moon ( J Jacobs photo)

Start seeing what looks like a full moon on Friday. Full moons tend to look full just before their date and the day afterwards.

In 2022, April’s full moon reaches total illumination at 1:55 p.m. EDT on Saturday the 16th and will continue to appear full on Sunday. It is not a SuperMoon. The moon will appear to be larger the morning of April 19 when it will be at its perigee (closest to Earth) at 11:14 EDT.

Known as the Pink Moon, the April full moon derives its name from the season when pink creeping (moss) phlox bloom and not from an atmospheric moon color.

As with other full moon names, it echoes what is happening in nature so other names range from Breaking Ice Moon to Awakening Moon.

March’s full moon, which fell before the Spring Equinox was called the Worm Moon when worms emerge in early Spring.

But the March and April Full Moons can be the Paschal Moon depending on when the full moon falls: before or after the Spring Equinox.

The Paschal Moon is often used to determine the Easter date. So, the moon in March or April can be called the Paschal Moon. Visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac for more information on the Spring Equinox and April Full Moon. Also see Time and Date on How Easter is Determined.

The April full moon is also the Pesach Moon for the Jewish feast of Passover which begins at sundown April 15 and is celebrated with Seders on the first two evenings. Paschal is a Latinized word for Pesach.

For more Full Moon info visit NASA Solar System Exploration.