Wolf Moon: The first full moon of 2020 rises this Friday with a spectacular lunar eclipse also on the cards
The full moon in January is said to have got its name because wolves were more often heard at this time
The first full moon of 2020, also known as the 'Wolf Moon', will rise on January 10. It will be the first of 13 full moons this year.
The Wolf Moon will appear opposite the Sun at 2:21 pm EST. “January’s full moon will reach its peak fullness—meaning 100% of its face will be illuminated—at 2:21 pm EST on the 10th, but it will not appear in the sky until later that day,” says The Old Farmer’s Almanac, an annual North American periodical, which has been in publication since 1818.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the full moon names that are used in the Almanac come from multiple sources, including Native American groups and colonial Americans. Other traditional North American names have also passed down through generations.
The full moon on January 10 is said to have got its name from wolves that howled hungrily outside villages in winter.
“The full moon for January was called the Full Wolf Moon because wolves were more often heard at this time. It was traditionally thought that they howled due to hunger, but there is no evidence for this. However, wolves do tend to howl more often during winter months, and generally howl to define territory, locate pack members, and gather for hunting. In addition, Native American cultures typically hold a lot of respect — not fear — for wolves, so this month’s Moon name should be viewed with that in mind, too,” says The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
According to NASA, it was given the name by the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northern and eastern US.
“The next full moon will be this Friday, on January 10. Algonquin tribes of the northern and eastern US named the first full moon of winter the Wolf Moon, from the packs of wolves that howled amid the deep snows of winter,” NASA tweeted on Friday.
A full moon occurs when the side of the Moon facing the Earth is fully lit up by the Sun. There are a few different types of unusual full moon types, which include blood moons, supermoons, blue moons and harvest moons, among others.
Interestingly, the full moon on January 10 also coincides with a lunar eclipse. “On the night of the full Wolf Moon, some of us will see a penumbral lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, in North America, it will be visible in Alaska, eastern Maine, Greenland and parts of northern and eastern Canada. The eclipse will last approximately four hours, with the Moon entering the penumbra on January 10 at 12:06 pm EST, and leaving it at 4:14 pm EST,” says The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
According to NASA, the Moon will appear full for about three days centered on this time (2:21 pm EST), from Thursday morning to Sunday morning.
“As the Moon passes opposite the Sun, it will spend about four hours in the partial shadow of Earth. This will be while the Moon is below the horizon for most of the Americas. If you happen to find yourself on the opposite side of Earth, the slight and gradual dimming of the Moon should be barely noticeable (if at all),” explains NASA.
Venus will be the brightest planet in the sky, on the evening of the full moon as evening twilight ends.
There will be longer days ahead, say scientists. “For the Washington, DC area, on the day of the full moon (January 10, 2020), daylight will last 9 hours, 38 minutes. By the day of the full moon after next (February 9, 2020), the period of daylight will be 53 minutes longer, lasting 10 hours, 31 minutes,” says NASA.