By now, you’re probably sick of the snow, but there’s one last cosmic event commemorating the winter season before we gear up for the Spring Equinox.
On Saturday, February’s full moon, or the Snow Moon, will shine at its brightest in the night sky, and mark the last full moon of the winter season.
Over the course of its trip around the Earth, the Moon moves through different phases, each marked by a different degree of luminosity — and a unique nickname that pays tribute to the time at which the full moon takes places.
WHEN IS THE FEBRUARY FULL MOON?
On February 27, the full Snow Moon will light up the night skies.
The full moon will reach its peak brightness at 3:19 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday, but you can start gazing out on it starting Friday night. The Moon will drift towards the East above the horizon shortly after the Sun sets and will reach its highest point in our view of the skies around midnight.
WHY DO THEY CALL THE FEBRUARY FULL MOON “SNOW MOON”?
February’s Full Moon was bestowed its nickname “Snow Moon” due to the heavy amount of snowfall that coincide with this month. It was also nicknamed the Month of the Bony Moon and Hungry Moon by Cherokee tribes to symbolize the scarcity of food during this month due to the crop season.
WHAT CAUSES A FULL MOON?
Every 27 days, the Moon embarks on a brand new orbit around the Earth — an occasion marked by a new moon. The new moon is barely visible in the skies, but our natural satellite’s visibility increases as the cycle continues.
At the beginning of its cycle, the Moon is on the same side of the Earth as the Sun, with its dark side facing our planet.
As it makes its orbit around the Earth, which takes 27 days, 7 hours, and 43 minutes, the Moon goes through eight different phases, each varying in brightness, visibility, and size. When it reaches its apex — a Full Moon — the Moon appears at its largest and brightest.
A Full Moon takes place when the Earth is wedged between the Sun and the Moon at exactly opposite ends, with the side of the Moon facing the Earth becoming fully illuminated by the Sun’s beaming light.
The Moon will remain bright for two nights, before it gradually begins fading into darkness once more, starting a brand new cycle. A New Moon will begin on March 11, and that month’s Full Moon will illuminate on March 28 as the Worm Moon, as the ground begins to thaw allowing for earthworms to reappear.