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Full Snow Moon will be bright in the sky tonight

This year’s second full moon – known as the “Snow Moon” – will light up the sky during the next two days. Due to the fact that the moon will be at its farthest point from the Earth in its orbit (over 250,000 miles away), it will appear 14 percent smaller than a supermoon (when a full moon appears larger and brighter because it is closest to the Earth’s orbit), and is thus called by astronomers a “micromoon.” However, most observers will not be able to notice this difference with the naked eye, so this moon too will offer a spectacular view, provided that the skies are clear. 

Although the Snow Moon has reached peak illumination at approximately 1:29 p.m. ET on Sunday, it has appeared full from early Saturday morning and will continue to do so until early Tuesday morning.

“Seeing the moon yourself shouldn’t be too difficult, as long as clouds aren’t in the way. It will be easily the brightest object in the night sky and fully visible to the unaided eye; however, a pair of binoculars or a small telescope will enable you to see some of the smaller features on its surface,” said Gregory Brown, a Public Astronomy Officer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the name of this full moon emerged due to the fact that February is associated with more snowfall in North America. Across Native American tribes, this moon’s name varies, including “the sleet moon” (the Comanches), “cannapopa wi,” which means “when trees crack because of cold” (the Lakota), or “atchiulartadsh,” meaning “out of food” and signifying the usual lack of food resources characterizing the lands inhabited by the Kalapuya tribe in February. Other tribes named the moon in connection to animals, such as the Bald Eagle Moon (the Cree), the Black Bear Moon (the Tlingit), the Racoon Moon (the Dakota), the Groundhog Moon (the Alonquin), or the Goose Moon (the Haida).

Europeans have often referred to this moon as “the Candles moon,” and connected it to the Candlemas feast (the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ) on February 2. In the Hebrew tradition, the moon occurs in the middle of the month of Shevat and on the holiday Tu BiShvat (“the New Year of the Trees”), which is celebrated by planting trees in order to raise ecological awareness. 

“So long as there’s not too much cloud, the full moon will be an unmistakable white orb in the sky. This is a good opportunity to use a small telescope or a pair of binoculars to see the moon’s detailed surface, or even try taking a few interesting moon photos,” experts from the Royal Observatory Greenwich concluded.


By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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