Look up this weekend! A Full Snow Moon is set to appear in the night sky over the UK on Saturday evening
- The February full moon is known as the Snow Moon, Hungry Moon or Bear Moon
- The names come from Native American tribes and refer to the time of year
- February is usually the snowiest month of the year in North America
- It will reach its peak fullness in the UK at 08:17 GMT on February 28 but will appear to be full from tonight through to early Sunday morning
A full ‘Snow Moon’ will light up the night sky over the UK this week, appearing at its fullest on Saturday night, but will still be ‘large and bright’ throughout the weekend.
The spectacle won’t be as bright as 2020’s Snow Moon as this isn’t a supermoon, but should still make for an illuminating sight across the UK.
The name ‘Snow Moon’ comes from Native American tribes and is due to the fact February is the month for snow and colder temperatures.
To see as many of the surface details of the Moon as possible while out stargazing, give your eyes time to adjust to lower lights and turn off artificial lights sources.
A plane from travelling towards the Argentine city of Bahia Blanca passes in front of the Moon. February’s full moon is named ‘Snow Moon’ as it often snows in February in the US
Full Moon Calendar 2021
February’s full moon is also known as the ‘Hunger moon’ due to the brutal weather conditions that made it harder for tribes to go out and hunt for food.
The names have been compiled by the Farmer’s Almanac, which first published a list of names for full moons inspired by Native American tribes in the 1930s.
It will reach its full size at 08:17 GMT on February 28 but will appear to be full from tonight through to early Sunday morning.
Astronomers advise photographers to download apps and maps to track the progress of the moon across the sky, in order to make sightings easier.
It should be possible to also view the planet Mars during the Snow Moon, depending on cloud cover.
It will appear on the west-southwestern horizon appearing as a bright dot in the sky near Orion’s Belt.
According to NASA no other planets will be visible to the naked eye until March, when Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn should be visible.
EarthSky says the bright star Regulus will be visible close to the Moon as it reaches its brightest and fullest point.
Regulus is the brightest object in the constellation Leo and one of the brightest stars in the night sky.
It is about 79 light years away and is a quadruple star system split into two pairs of stars.
Stargazers across the United States were treated to a stunning showing of the ‘Snow Moon’ in 2019 – the 2020 Snow Moon was a ‘supermoon’
TIPS TO WATCH THE SNOW MOON
Get up high!
The further up you are, the better your chance of a clear sky to see the stars.
Take a hike in your local area and explore the surroundings to find the perfect stargazing spot!
The further you are away from light pollution the better chance you’ll have of seeing the stars.
Moons always rise in the east and set in the west – so follow this direction in your search.
Turn off the lights
For those stargazing from the comfort of their homes, turning off the lights indoors can improve the visibility of the night sky, so long as you’re not afraid of the dark!
Artificial light can make it harder to see stars in the sky so make sure wherever you are is as dark as possible.
SOURCE: Parkdean Resorts
‘To the eye, the moon can look full for a few nights in succession. To astronomers, though, the full moon occurs in a single instant, when the moon is 180 degrees opposite the sun in ecliptic longitude,’ wrote EarthSky.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac says names for the full moons don’t always come from Native American tribes, they also come from colonial America, European sources and other traditions, which is why there are often more than one name for them.
Other names for the February full moon include the Bear or the Black Bear Moon as it is when bear cubs tend to be born, or the Goose Moon.
As well as freezing temperatures and birth, scarcity is another name for the moon, due to hunting becoming harder – some tribes called it the Month of the Bony Moon or Hungry Moon to highlight how hard food is to come by.
The first full moon of the year is known as the Wolf Moon, as that is the time of year when villagers in ancient America would have heard the wolf howl.
The full moon in March is known as the Worm Moon as it is when Earthworms begin to appear due to rising temperatures – this year there will be a wolf supermoon.
A supermoon appears brighter and larger than the Moon on any other night and occurs as a regular part of the Moon’s orbit of the Earth.
The orbit isn’t an exact circle, so there are points where the the Moon is slightly closer to the Earth than at other times – when this occurs it is known as a supermoon.
A supermoon occurs when the full moon nearly coincides with perigee – the point in the orbit of the moon at which it is nearest to the Earth.
This means it appears up to 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than normal, when viewed from Earth.