The full moon in January, popularly known as the wolf moon, is almost upon us. Here’s a “howl” to watch it shine brightly this Thursday (January 28th).
The moon will be full for just a moment – on Thursday it happens at 14:16 EST (19:16 UTC). But, as with any full moon cycle, the moon will appear full for about three days, from Wednesday to Saturday morning (January 27-30), according to NASA.
The full moon will be so bright, you can just look up at the (hopefully clear) night sky to see it. If you have access to binoculars or a telescope, you may be able to spot some lunar features, such as the Sea of Tranquility or the bright crater of Copernicus. NASA announced.
Connected: Gallery: Pictures of the fantastic full moon
To see a live broadcast of a full wolf moon in January rising over Rome, the virtual telescope project has free webcast, which begins at 10:45 a.m. EST (15:45 UTC) on Thursday and is controlled by Italian astrophysicist Gianluca Massi.
So how did the full moon in January come to be called the wolf moon? Look no further than Maine Farmer’s non-existent almanac, which gives the full moon each month a name collected by Indians, most likely from the Algonquin language, according to NASA. However, the almanac has taken a lot of freedom in its naming scheme and it is not clear where the name “wolf moon” comes from.
“From what I learned about the traditional names given to full moons before the introduction of modern timing, local leaders usually decided on the name of the moon based on the conditions at the time,” Gordon Johnston, executive director at NASA headquarters, wrote in a statement. “These cultures usually didn’t need calendars to indicate the exact dates far in advance. The names of the full moon were used to describe and remember what happened in the past and to remind us of what was likely to come in the near future.”
In addition, “there are many different names for the full moon Indians,” Johnston said.
In this case, the name of the wolf moon may have been an old European name for the intermediate moon, writes Johnston. And Sioux’s name for the moon in January translates as “wolves gather together moon,” according to Indian Country Today, a news agency that reflects Native Americans.
Wolves do not have to howl on the moon, but rather howl to usually express one of two things – to warn a rival pack that is violating their territory, or to direct a lost wolf back to the pack, Previously, Live Science reported.
Still decide to watch the wolf moon, we hope you don’t get lost, although you could blame your friends or family if you split up. Or you can just text them and while you’re ready, make a date to see the next full moon, also known as the snow moon, which will shine brightly on February 27th.
Originally published in Live Science.