ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – The first full moon of the year will rise high in the night sky and be visible to all across the world tonight – weather permitting of course. This particular full moon is called the “Wolf Moon,” and can also be referred to as the “Snow Moon” or “Hunger Moon.”
You can check out future moon phases and other fun moon events HERE.
Any full moon to appear in January is referred to as a “wolf moon” based on the fact that it’s seems to be the time of year when wolves howl most frequently, but the name also ties back to Native American sources and stories. Some sources say the wolf moon is known as the second full moon of winter, but the original sources of these moon names aren’t completely clear. Regardless, the names seem to stick and are still used today.
Quick Fact: A full moon shines when the sun appears directly opposite, or 180 degrees from the moon, so the sun’s light reflects most directly off of the moon’s surface and the full face of the moon is illuminated.
The timing of the full moon will be the same for everyone, but the exact hour it occurs differs across time zones. This is because the appearance of the moon is determined by its relative position to earth, so it will appear differently in the night sky when viewing from different points of the world.
Another Fun Fact: Any moon during during Northern Hemisphere winter will rise and appear higher in the sky as the sun continues to rise at its lowest. The moon merely mimics what the sun does in Northern Hemisphere summer, hence the low sun angle and colder temperatures during our winter. What’s also neat is the fact that because nights during our winter become longer, we can often visibly see the moon during the daytime before sunset. This effect becomes more pronounced the farther north in latitude you go!
The full moon has already reached its peak illumination on this Thursday, January 28th at 2:30 PM, but it won’t be visible above the horizon until just after sunset. Here’s the catch: it’s very unlikely we get to see this across our night sky tonight in Rochester, or even Western New York in general as the moon view will be blocked by lake effect clouds and snow showers.
Get the latest on the forecast HERE.
On the upside, the full moon will shine for about 3 days from now all the way into Saturday morning, which means it’s possible to catch a glimpse in between lake effect flakes. Especially during the daytime as the moon can make an appearance before sunset.
~Meteorologist Christine Gregory