This month’s “Snow Moon” will pass through Earth’s outer shadow just after sunset, turning its face varying shades of grey.

Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth is optimally placed between the sun and the moon. With an added dose of serendipity, we’re on our planet’s primo dark side with front-row seats.

But probably most notable is the comet itself, which will shoot past close enough to be visible from earth. The comet is a bright emerald green, probably a result of the evaporation of diatomic carbon as it flies through space. And it is marked out by a bright purple tail – but it might actually have lost that since it last flew past us, astronomers say, probably the result of a brush with Venus that led it to burn off the ice core that creates it.

In North America, each monthly full moon takes on its own name – usually related to changes in the weather or the seasons.

Full moon names date back to Native Americans, where the tribes kept track of the seasons by naming each month’s full moon.

February’s full moon is named for snow since it is usually the year’s snowiest month, but it can also be referred to as the hunger moon – because hunting would get harder due to the harsh weather conditions.

The unusual celestial triple play begins early Friday evening, reports Starting at 5:34 P.M. eastern time, people along the east coast will be able to observe a penumbral lunar eclipse, when the sun, moon and earth all align.

Unlike a total eclipse, in which the Earth casts a cone-shaped shadow, or umbra, that blacks out the moon, the effect of a penumbral eclipse is more subtle, reports Deborah Byrd at The face of the moon will slowly darken several shades over time as it passes through the penumbra, the more diffuse area on the edge of the shadow cone.

February Moon names from different cultures Ice (Celtic). Old Moon (Cree). Gray Moon (Pima). Wind Moon (Creek). Winter Moon (Taos). Nuts Moon (Natchez). Avunnivik Moon (Inuit). Geese Moon (Omaha). Bony Moon (Cherokee). Purification Moon (Hopi). Little bud Moon (Kiowa). Snow Moon (Neo-Pagan). Lateness Moon (Mohawk). Shoulder Moon (Wishram). Rabbit Moon (Potawatomi). Sucker Moon (Anishnaabe). Long Dry Moon (Assiniboine). Little Famine Moon (Choctaw). Storm Moon (Medieval English). Sparkling Frost Moon (Arapaho). Running Fish Moon (Winnebago). Coyote Frighten Moon (San Juan). Spruce Tips Moon (Passamaquoddy). Raccoon Moon, Trees Pop Moon (Sioux). Hunger Moon : Dark, Storm Moon : Full (Janic). Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, Trappers Moon (Algonquin).

Other moon names : Wolf Moon, Wild Moon, Quickening Moon, Solmonath Moon, Chaste Moon, Horning Moon, Red Moon, Big Winter Moon, Cleansing Moon.

February's full moon is also known as the "Full Hunger Moon" because food was scarce and hunting was difficult for ancient tribes during this month.


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