The Full Moon for February is the best supermoon of 2019. Traditionally, this Moon was called the Snow Moon. Find out why—plus, see more Moon facts and folklore.
THE FEBRUARY “SUPER SNOW” MOON
February’s full Moon peaks on Tuesday, February 19, at 10:53 A.M.EST (15:53 UTC), but will appear full the night before and after its peak to the casual stargazer.
It will also be a so-called “supermoon,” which means the Moon is at its closest point in its orbit to Earth.
In fact, the February’s full Moon is the nearest, largest, and brightest full Moon of the year! Technically, it’s the second of three supermoons to occur in 2019 (January, February, March).
In ancient times, people across Europe and Native Americans used the Moon to track the seasons. In the lunar calendar, names were often given to each month’s Moon. (If this sounds odd to you, remember that our current calendar is based on the Sun and the solar year!)
Traditionally, the Moon we see in February is called the Snow Moon due to the typically heavy snowfall of February. On average, February is the USA’s snowiest month, according to data from the National Weather Service.
Other Full Moon names include: the “Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon” (from the Wishram people of the Pacific Northwest), the “No Snow in the Trails Moon” (Zuni, of the Southwest), and the “Bone Moon” (Cherokee, of the Southeast). The Bone Moon meant that there was so little food that people gnawed on bones and ate bone marrow soup.
Do supermoons truly appear brighter? Technically, yes. Practically, it depends on your point of comparison. The supermoon’s diameter is indeed about 7% greater than an ordinary full Moon and 14% greater than a full Moon when it’s at its furthest point in its orbit to Earth (a “micromoon”).And a supermoon exceeds the brightness of an ordinary Moon by 15%! When compared to a micromoon, the supermoon is 30% brighter!
The Full Moon for January 2019 reaches its peak on the 21st. Traditionally, this Moon was called the Full Wolf Moon. This year, we’ll also be treated to a total lunar eclipse and a Supermoon! Read about how this Moon got its name—plus, see more Moon facts and folklore.
THE “SUPER BLOOD WOLF MOON” ECLIPSE
This year, thanks to the Moon being both a Supermoon and part of a total lunar eclipse, January’s Full Wolf Moon is being called the “Super Blood Wolf Moon.” How’s that for a name?
Total Lunar Eclipse (“Blood Moon”)
Just a few hours before the peak of the full Moon, a total lunar eclipse will be visible from all of North, Central, and South America.
The partial eclipse begins at approximately 10:33 P.M.EST (7:33 P.M.PST) on January 20.
The total eclipse begins about an hour later, at 11:41 P.M.EST (8:41 P.M.PST), and will last for approximately one hour. This is the time to look skyward!*
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth, which causes the usually bright full Moon to turn a dark, ominous, coppery-red (giving the eclipsed Moon the nickname ”Blood Moon”).
In addition to a total lunar eclipse, we’ll also be treated to a Supermoon.A Supermoon occurs when the Moon is both full AND reaches the point in its orbit where it’s closest to Earth. A Supermoon is ever-so-slightly larger and brighter than a typical full Moon, though the difference is negligible when viewed with the naked eye.
A SUPERMOON, BLUE MOON, AND LUNAR ECLIPSE ON JANUARY 31 6:25 PM Las Vegas Time
SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON ECLIPSE
“Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse” is the description many Web sites are giving for the full Moon coming up. So, what does this mean? A Moon that’s super-big? One that’s blue? One that’s blood red? Maybe a combination of blue and red! A purple Supermoon?
A Supermoon occurs when the Moon is closest to Earth during its orbit, and theoretically larger than average.
A Blue Moon is the popular name for a second full Moon in the same calendar month.
A ”Blood Moon” refers to the Moon’s hue on the night of a total lunar eclipse; it normally turns a coppery red.
Put ‘em all together and that’s what you’ve got.
Actual astronomers smile and shake their heads at these catchy names. They really want more people to watch the sky, and having names for things helps with publicity.
Call it what you wish! Each celestial event is interesting in itself. When you put them together so they occur on the same night, it’s unique. Sometimes the celestial rhythms just sync up to make us wonder.
January 31 is also the grand finale of a trilogy of Supermoons that have been taking place since early December.
“Supermoon” is a new term. No one used it until a few years ago. Instead, the Moon’s closest approach to Earth—full or otherwise—was called a Perigean Moon. The problem is that even the very closest Moon does not look any larger than your average normal Full Moon. The size difference is too small for the naked eye to detect. But, okay, call it super.
A Moon at perigee can appear up to 14% bigger. January 31’s total lunar eclipse will occur 1.2 days after perigee so the Moon’s diameter will appear about 7% bigger than average. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
The “Supermoon” term has not been used merely for the closest Moon of the year, but also for the second closest, and third closest, and so on. This one coming up on January 31 is, for example, the third of a trilogy and the second closest of 2018. It’s 358,816 km away, as compared with the January 1 Full Moon which was 356,565 km away.
People post telephoto pictures on social media, depicting enormous-looking Moons in the sky. So astronomers like myself are concerned that the public will look up, see nothing unusual, and just shrug. Read more…
“Blue Moon” has become a popular term for the second Full Moon in a month; the name arose because of a Depression-era mistake in an astronomy magazine. The term was never used by astronomers or the ancient Greeks, or Native Americans, or anybody else. Despite the name, the Moon won’t look blue at all. Indeed, the expression “once in a Blue Moon” doesn’t apply since it’s not that rare; the event occurs every 2-½ years.
That said, the Total Eclipse of a Blue Moon hasn’t occurred since March 31, 1866. That’s 152 years ago!
by Joe Rao | Monday, September 14th, 2015 | From: Astronomy
On Sunday night, September 27th, for the fourth time in the last 17 months, the Moon will once again become completely immersed in the Earth’s shadow, resulting in a total lunar eclipse.
As is the case with all lunar eclipses, the region of visibility will encompass more than half of our planet. Nearly a billion people in the Western Hemisphere, nearly a billion and a half for much of Europe and Africa, and perhaps another half billion in Western Asia, will be able to watch as the full Harvest Moon becomes a shadow of its former self and morphs into a glowing coppery ball.
It will also be the biggest full Moon of 2015, since on the very same day, the Moon will also be at perigee — its closest point to the Earth at 221,753 miles (356,877 km) — making it a so-called “supermoon.” Continue reading →
Story from NationalGeographic.com By Andrew Fazekas, National Geographic
PUBLISHED MARCH 18, 2015
This week sees a rare combo of total solar eclipse, perigee moon, and the first day of spring.
A total eclipse occurs when the moon comes between Earth and the sun, casting a lunar shadow onto the Earth’s surface along a narrow, 62-mile-wide (100-kilometer) path. Because this “black hole” effect lasts for only a couple of minutes, totality ends up being a truly rare event for any single spot on Earth—occurring about once every three centuries for each geographical location.
Friday’s eclipse will race across remote regions of the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, so only a relatively few lucky souls will be able to see it. But people in large parts of Europe and in northern areas of Africa and Asia will get to enjoy at least a partial solar disappearing act.
Adding to the uniqueness of the total eclipse, it falls on the vernal equinox, which officially occurs at 22:45 GMT (6:45 p.m. EDT) and marks the beginning of spring. While the occurrence of an eclipse on the equinox is considered a cyclical event and is not that rare, this celestial combination won’t occur again until 2034 read more…