Why is January's full moon known as the full wolf moon?

Herman Weaver
January 12, 2017

The wolf moon for 2017 will be seen shining in the winter sky on Thursday.

The moon technically reaches its full phase tomorrow morning (Jan. 12) at 6:34 a.m. EST (1134 GMT), but skywatchers can get an eyeful of an apparently full lunar orb both tonight and tomorrow night.

Those earlier peoples lived their daily lives in proximity to the large canines. However, Native American tribes during colonial times named it Full Wolf Moon due to the constant howling villagers would sometimes hear from wolves hungrily searching for food in cold winter nights. And what is the wolf moon meaning?

It's a good listen whether the moon is full or not.

On Thursday, Jan. 12, the wolf moon will be visible in the early morning, just before daybreak, and also in the evening when it begins to rise in the eastern sky at 5:26 p.m. in the NY metro region. You will get another chance to see it because it will not completely set until 7:58 a.m. EST on January 13. Full moons usually look best when they first start rising and in the hours before sunrise.

When does the wolf moon reach its crest? For the NY metro region, that will be at 6:34 a.m. Thursday.

All of the year's full moons have names, which were given to them by Native American tribes living in the eastern and northern United States. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the full moon of January "appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages". It received the epic moniker from Native American tribes during colonial times, who dubbed it that because of the insane noises that the villagers would sometimes hear from the hungry wolves hunting for food during the dark winter nights.

Are wolf moons and snow moons the same thing?

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