How to see February’s full snow moon
By Ashley Strickland, CNN
Look in the night sky this weekend for February’s full moon, where it can be glimpsed around the world.
It will reach peak illumination around 1:29 p.m. ET Sunday, but the moon will appear full from early Saturday morning through early Tuesday morning, according to NASA.
The full moon is considered a micromoon because it appears slightly smaller than normal in our sky due to its distant location in orbit around Earth right now, according to EarthSky. January’s full moon was also a micromoon.
The moon will still be very bright even though it’s 252,171 miles (405,830 kilometers) away.
It is known as the snow moon, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, since February is associated with more snowfall in North America. The Arapaho tribe’s name for February’s full moon means “frost sparkling in the sun,” according to a guide compiled at Western Washington University.
Wintry-sounding names for February’s full moon vary across other Native American tribes. The Comanche call it sleet moon, while the Lakota know it as cannapopa wi, which means “when trees crack because of cold.” The month was also associated with hunger and a lack of food sources, hence the Kalapuya tribe’s moon name atchiulartadsh, or “out of food.”
Europeans have referred to February’s full moon as the Candles moon, connected to Candlemas on February 2, or the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ. The moon also occurs with the end of Lunar New Year celebrations, which is the Lantern Festival.
The full moon falls in the middle of the month of Shevat and on the holiday Tu BiShvat on the Hebrew calendar, or “New Year of the Trees,” which is celebrated by planting trees and raising ecological awareness.
Here are the rest of 2023’s top sky events, so you can have your binoculars and telescope ready.
Full moons and supermoons
Most years, there are 12 full moons — one for each month. But in 2023, there will be 13 full moons, with two in August.
The second full moon in one month is known as a blue moon, like the phrase “once in a blue moon,” according to NASA. Typically, full moons occur every 29 days. But most months in our calendar last 30 or 31 days, so the months and moon phases don’t always align, resulting in a blue moon about every 2½ years.
The two full moons in August can also be considered supermoons, according to EarthSky. Definitions of a supermoon vary, but the term generally denotes a full moon that is brighter and closer to Earth than normal and thus appears larger in the night sky.
Some astronomers say the phenomenon occurs when the moon is within 90% of perigee — its closest approach to Earth in orbit. By that definition, the full moon for July will also be considered a supermoon event, according to EarthSky.
Here is the list of remaining full moons for 2023, according to the Farmer’s Almanac:
- March 7: Worm moon
- April 6: Pink moon
- May 5: Flower moon
- June 3: Strawberry moon
- July 3: Buck moon
- August 1: Sturgeon moon
- August 30: Blue moon
- September 29: Harvest moon
- October 28: Hunter’s moon
- November 27: Beaver moon
- December 26: Cold moon
These are the popularized names associated with the monthly full moons, but each one carries its own significance across Native American tribes (with many also referred to by differing names).
Mark your calendar with the peak dates of meteor showers to watch in 2023:
- Lyrids: April 22-23
- Eta Aquariids: May 5-6
- Southern Delta Aquariids: July 30-31
- Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
- Perseids: August 12-13
- Orionids: October 20-21
- Southern Taurids: November 4-5
- Northern Taurids: November 11-12
- Leonids: November 17-18
- Geminids: December 13-14
- Ursids: December 21-22
If you live in an urban area, you may want to drive to a place that isn’t full of bright city lights to view the showers. If you’re able to find an area unaffected by light pollution, meteors could be visible every couple of minutes from late evening until dawn, depending on which part of the world you’re in.
Find an open area with a wide view of the sky. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look straight up. And give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness — without looking at your phone — so the meteors will be easier to spot.
Solar and lunar eclipses
There will be two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses in 2023.
A total solar eclipse will occur on April 20, visible to those in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Antarctica. This kind of event occurs when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, blocking out the sun.
And for some sky watchers in Indonesia, parts of Australia and Papua New Guinea, it will be a hybrid solar eclipse. The curvature of Earth’s surface can cause some eclipses to shift between total and annular as the moon’s shadow moves across the globe, according to NASA.
Like a total solar eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and Earth during an annular eclipse — but it occurs when the moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth, according to NASA. This causes the moon to appear smaller than the sun, so it doesn’t completely block out our star and creates a glowing ring around the moon.
A Western Hemisphere-sweeping annular solar eclipse will occur on October 14 and be visible across the Americas.
Be sure to wear proper eclipse glasses to view solar eclipses safely as the sun’s light can be damaging to the eyes.
Meanwhile, a lunar eclipse can occur only during a full moon when the sun, Earth and moon align and the moon passes into Earth’s shadow. When this occurs, Earth casts two shadows on the moon during the eclipse. The partial outer shadow is called the penumbra; the full, dark shadow is the umbra.
When the full moon moves into Earth’s shadow, it darkens, but it won’t disappear. Instead, sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere lights the moon in a dramatic fashion, turning it red — which is why the event is often referred to as a “blood moon.”
Depending on the weather conditions in your area, it may be a rusty or brick-colored red. This happens because blue light undergoes stronger atmospheric scattering, so red light will be the most dominant color highlighted as sunlight passes through the atmosphere and casts it on the moon.
A penumbral lunar eclipse will occur on May 5 for those in Africa, Asia and Australia. This less dramatic version of a lunar eclipse happens when the moon moves through the penumbra, or the faint, outer part of Earth’s shadow.
A partial lunar eclipse of the hunter’s moon on October 28 will be visible to those in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, parts of North America and much of South America. Partial eclipses occur when the sun, Earth and moon don’t completely align, so only part of the moon passes into shadow.
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