January's full moon, popularly known as the wolf moon, is almost upon us. Here's "howl" to watch it shine brightly this Thursday (Jan. 28).

The moon will be at its fullest for just an instant — on Thursday, that happens at 2:16 p.m. EST (19:16 UTC). But, as with every full moon cycle, the moon will appear full for about three days, from Wednesday through Saturday morning (Jan. 27–30), according to NASA.

The full moon will be so bright, you can just gaze upward at the (hopefully clear) night sky to see it. If you have access to binoculars or a telescope, you may be able to spot some lunar features, such as the Sea of Tranquility or the bright Copernicus Crater, NASA reported.

If it's a cloudy night, you can always take a virtual tour of the moon with Moon Trek, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. With Moon Trek, it's possible to view the historic landing sites from the Apollo missions, as well as other moonscapes.

To see a live feed of January's full wolf moon rising over Rome, the Virtual Telescope Project has a free webcast, which begins at 10:45 a.m. EST (15:45 UTC) on Thursday and is run by Italian astrophysicist Gianluca Masi.

The full January moon carries a cool nickname, the “wolf moon” — a monicker that was coined by Native American tribes that would often hear packs of hungry wolves howling on cold and snowy nights in the middle of winter.

“It was traditionally thought that they howled due to hunger, but there is no evidence for this," the publication says. “However, wolves do tend to howl more often during winter months, and generally howl to define territory, locate pack members, and gather for hunting.”

Full moon names date back to Native Americans of a few hundred years ago, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. To keep track of the changing seasons, these tribes gave distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred.

There were some variations in the moon names, but in general, the same ones were used throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England, continuing west to Lake Superior.

European settlers followed their own customs and created some of their own names.

The Full Wolf Moon. Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Native American villages. This moon was also known as the Old Moon or the Moon after Yule. In some tribes it was called the Full Snow Moon, but most applied that name to the next moon.

January Moon Names: Man Moon (Taos). Joyful Moon (Hopi). Avunniviayuk (Inuit). Quite Moon (Celtic). Ice Moon (San Juan). Cold Moon (Cherokee). Ice Moon (Neo-Pagan). Flying Ant Moon(Apache). Big Cold Moon (Mohawk). Cooking Moon (Choctaw). Strong Cold Moon (Sioux). Little Winter Moon (Creek). Her Cold Moon (Wishram). Cold Meal Moon (Natchez). Moon After Yule (Cherokee). Wolf Moon (Medieval English). Strong Cold Moon (Cheyenne). Quiet : Dark, Wolf : Full (Janic). Great Spirit Moon (Anishnaabe). Whirling Wind Moon (Passamaquoddy). Wolf Moon, Old Moon, Winter Moon, Yule Moon (Algonquin).

VIDEO Wolves serenade the moon

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