As we hit our mid-winter stride, our next full moon will be the Snow Moon and it will be officially full about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. This is the first of three supermoons to grace the skies in 2020 - moons that appear just a little larger than a regular full moon.

Having a full moon that peaks early Sunday means we will get a whole weekend of full-moon skywatching, explained Gordon Johnston in a recent NASA solar system blog.

“The Moon will appear full for about three days centered around this time, from Friday evening to Monday morning, making this a full Moon weekend.”

Other names for the February full moon include the Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, the Chinese Lantern Festival Moon and the Full Moon of Tu B’Shevat.

The Farmer’s Almanac began publishing Native American names for the full moons in the 1930s, Johnson said.

" ... According to this almanac, the tribes of what is now the northeastern United States called this the Snow Moon or the Storm Moon because of the heavy snows that fall in this season. The last time I checked, NOAA long-term monthly averages for the Washington, D.C. area showed January and February nearly tied as the snowiest months of the year. Bad weather and heavy snowstorms made hunting difficult, so this Moon was also called the Hunger Moon. Across North America, there are many different tribes with different languages and different names for the full Moons throughout the year."

This weekend’s Snow Moon will also be the year’s first in a trio of supermoons.

Todd Slisher, executive director of Longway Planetarium, says most supermoons are only around 5 percent larger in appearance than a regular full moon.

This image above, from NASA, shows the difference in size between a full moon and a supermoon.

Other supermoons will rise on March 9 and April 7. Slisher said April’s will be the “most super” of the supermoons. April’s full moon will be the closest to Earth of the three supermoons in 2020.

Other things will also be visible in the sky this weekend, according to NASA.

“On the evening of the full Moon on Feb. 9, as evening twilight ends, the brightest of the planets, Venus, will appear in the west-southwest at about 27 degrees above the horizon. Other names for Venus when it is in the evening sky are the Evening Star and Hesperus. The planet Mercury will appear to the lower left of Venus at about 6 degrees above the horizon. The bright star Capella will appear high to the northeast at about 72 degrees above the horizon, while Aldebaran and the other bright stars from the local arm of our home galaxy, including the constellation Orion, will appear spread out towards the southeast. The bright star Regulus will appear near the full Moon.”

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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