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Jan Harris
Assistant Editor
10:00 AM 26th January 2021
nature

The Wolf Moon Rising

The first full moon of 2021 will rise on the night of Thursday 28 January and will be the Wolf Moon.

Wolves howl to communicate. During the breeding season in February the wolves are particularly loud and hungry packs of wolves would howl outside their camps, which is probably why people associate the month of January with the howling of wolves. Wolves are nocturnal animals and so they probably howl towards the sky and the moon for better acoustics.

Other names for the January full moon are Moon after Yule, Old Moon or Ice Moon.

In 2021 we are in for a lunar calendar treat. There will be 12 full moons including four supermoons, two lunar eclipses and a rare blue moon.

The first supermoon of 2021 is on 28 March, followed by another on 27 April, 26 May and 24 June. Supermoons are said to appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual.

Different types of moons
Blue Moon
– when a full moon occurs twice in the same month
Harvest Moon – this is around the autumnal equinox when farmers do most of their harvesting
Supermoon – Supermoons are said to appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual.
Blood Moon – occurs during a total lunar eclipse


Why a full moon?

Full moons occur every 29.5 days or so as the moon moves to the side of Earth directly opposite the sun, reflecting the sun's rays off its full face and appearing as a brilliant, perfectly circular disk.

A full moon occurs when the moon's earth-facing side is completely illuminated by the sun. Scientists say that when you see the moon looking really large as it rises in the sky your brain is actually playing a trick on you.

There are many reasons as to why this is, but the main theory is that when the moon is low on the horizon it can be compared to earthly things, like buildings and trees, and this is why it seems huge.

Every month of the year there is a full moon which illuminates the sky, each of which is given a different name.

Full Moons in 2021:

photo Rob Harris
photo Rob Harris
Wolf Moon - January 28
Snow Moon - February 27
Worm Moon - March 28
Pink Moon - April 27
Flower Moon - May 26
Strawberry Moon - June 24
Buck Moon - July 31
Sturgeon Moon - August 30
Harvest Moon - September 29
Hunter's Moon - October 28
Beaver Moon - November 27
Cold Moon - December 27

There are a total of 12 full moon phases during the annual lunar cycle plus the occasional Blue Moon and each full moon has a unique name, which is tied to the changing seasons, behaviour of the plants, animals, or weather during that month and reflects the landscape around us.

The names given to the full moons during the year are derived from the North American tribes who centuries ago kept track of the changing seasons by giving the full moons distinctive names depending on the time of year.

These names are now included into our modern calendar. However the full moon names we now use also have Anglo-Saxon and Germanic roots.

So weather permitting, lockdown can’t stop us looking up at the skies to see the full moon.

The next full moon of 2021 will rise on the 27 February and is the Snow Moon.