Full January wolf moon will be shining in the sky this week

Get ready for the wolves to start howling. The first full moon of 2020 will shine brightly in the night sky on Thursday, Jan. 9, and Friday, Jan. 10 — the day it officially becomes full.

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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.”

By the way, the January full moon will be one of 13 full moons appearing in 2020, because the month of October will have two full moons. And some sky watchers are calling this month’s full moon the “wolf moon eclipse,” because people in some parts of the world — not here in North America — will see a partial lunar eclipse as the moon turns full.

Stargazers will have a few good viewing opportunities, as long as the clouds don’t interfere. The wolf moon will reach its fullest phase at 2:21 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, Jan. 10, which means it will appear nearly full Thursday night, completely full Friday night and very close to full Saturday night.

In the New York City region, the moon will rise in the east-northeast sky at 3:45 p.m. Thursday, at 4:45 p.m. Friday and 5:53 p.m. Saturday, according to TimeAndDate.com.


If you are an early riser, check out the big moon as it sets in the west-northwestern sky at 7:12 a.m. Friday, 8:07 a.m. Saturday or 8:54 a.m. Sunday.

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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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