Winter Names for February Full Moon

The moon turns full today (Tuesday, February 7) at 21:54 Universal Time. That’s 4:54 p.m. EST, 3:54 p.m. CST, 2:54 p.m. MST or 1:54 p.m. PST. The image at top – a February moon from years past – was taken by Dan Bush. His Missouri Skies Moon Page is not to be missed.

This February full moon goes by many different names. The February full moon was called the Snow-blinding Moon by the Micmac people in eastern Canada. It was the Wind Moon to the San Ildefonso of the Southwest. And it was the Blackbear Moon to the Kutenai of the Northwest. Today, in North America, we often call the February full moon the Wolf Moon, Snow Moon or Hunger Moon.

Every full moon stands opposite – or nearly opposite – the sun. Try noticing how high above the horizon you see the moon tonight. Its distance above the horizon indicates approximately how far below the opposite horizon the sun is at that time.

Full moon over Mexico in February 2011. Image Credit: Katie Darden.

Any time you see the moon near the horizon, it might have a reddish color. The reason is Earth’s own atmosphere. The moon’s (or sun’s) light must pass through a greater thickness of atmosphere when rising or setting (that is, when it is near the horizon) than when overhead. Since the atmosphere scatters the bluish component of light, while allowing the redder light to travel straight through to our eyes, objects often appear redder than normal when near the horizon. So any moon, full or not, may look reddish when seen near the horizon.

When can you see earthshine on a crescent moon?

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