January’s full moon rises Thursday: What to know about the ‘wolf moon’

January’s full moon rises Thursday: What to know about the ‘wolf moon’

Doyle Rice
 USA TODAYplayShow CaptionHide Caption#videoDetailsToggle{color:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));cursor:pointer;display:inline-block;font-family:var(–sans-serif,sans-serif);font-size:var(–type-7);font-weight:var( –font-weight-bold,900);line-height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);margin-bottom:-8px}#vdt_hide{margin-bottom:10px}.vdt-flex[hidden]{display:none}.vdt-svg{fill:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);width:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px)}First full moon of 2024 to rise on Jan. 25Catch the rise of the Wolf Moon, the first full moon of 2024, on the night of Jan. 25.

Get ready to howl: The full “wolf” moon will rise in the evening sky Thursday night.

The full moon’s peak occurs at 12:54 p.m. EST Thursday, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, though it will be below the horizon in the United States at that point. But the moon visible Thursday night will be the full wolf moon (and Wednesday’s and Friday’s moon will look plenty full as well).

This will be 2024’s first full moon, which is a phenomenon that occurs when the moon is on the exact opposite side of Earth from the sun.

Thursday’s full moon is one of the few astronomy events of the winter, as there aren’t many meteor showers, planetary alignments or other captivating sights throughout the season, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada.

Why is it called the wolf moon?

The first full moon of the year is known as the wolf moon because wolves seem to howl more at night during the winter, the Old Farmer’s Almanac says.  

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But it’s not because they’re hungry: “Howling and other wolf vocalizations are heard in the wintertime to locate pack members, reinforce social bonds, define territory, and coordinate hunting,” the Almanac says.

The name has stuck even amid doubts about the accuracy of the wolf moon moniker.

What are other names for this month’s full moon?

Other names for January’s full moon were coined by Native American tribes and allude to the cold weather in the season. The names include center moon – named for the moon occurring roughly in the center of the winter – along with cold moon, frost exploding moon, freeze up moon and severe moon.

More: Monthly skywatcher’s guide to 2024: Eclipses, full moons, comets and meteor showers

When is the next full moon?

After Thursday’s wolf moon, the next full moon will be on Feb. 24. It’s known as the snow moon because of the large snowfalls that often occur in February.

It will be the final full moon before the arrival of astronomical spring on March 19, according to AccuWeather.

Contributing: Mike Snider, USA TODAY; Kyle Morel, NorthJersey.com

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