Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Wolf Moon, the first full moon of 2012, is tonight

The first full moon of 2012 will be tonight, the first of 13 full moons this year. Each of these moons has a name (and one of them has two names), as (via MSNBC) explains.*

How 2012's full moons got their strange names
Origins credited to Native Americans and early European settlers
By Joe Rao
updated 1/7/2012 3:07:59 PM ET
The start of 2012 brings with it a new year of skywatching, and lunar enthusiasts are gearing up for a stunning lineup of full moons. But, where does the tradition of full moon names come from?

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. Here is a list of all of the full moon names, as well as the dates and times for 2012: (Unless otherwise noted, all times are given in Eastern Standard Time.)
Tonight's full moon is the Full Wolf Moon which will reach maximum on January 9th (technically tomorrow) at 2:30 a.m. EST. The association of wolf with a full moon has cross-cultural connotations, particularly with superstitions about what else happens involving wolves, people, and full moons. Everyone, enjoy the light show and sing along with Warren Zevon. A-hoo!

Now that the show is over, click on "Read more" for the rest of the full moon names, along with important astronomical events associated with some of them.

Feb. 7, 4:54 p.m. EST — Full Snow some tribes, this was the Full Hunger Moon.
March 8, 4:39 a.m. EST — Full Worm Moon...The more northern tribes called this the Full Crow Moon...the Full Crust Moon...or The Full Sap Moon.
April 6, 10:21 a.m. EDT — Full Pink Moon...Other names for this month's moon were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and — among coastal tribes — the Full Fish Moon...This is also the Paschal Full Moon...The first Sunday following the Paschal Moon is Easter Sunday, which indeed will be observed two days later on Sunday, April 8.

May 5, 11:35 p.m. EDT — Full Flower Moon...also known as the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon. The moon will also be at perigee just 25 minutes after turning full, at 12:00 a.m. EDT on May 6, at a distance of 221,801 miles from Earth. Very high ocean tides can be expected from the coincidence of perigee with the full moon.

June 4, 7:12 a.m. EDT — Full Strawberry Moon...Europeans called it the Rose Moon. A partial eclipse of the moon will be visible chiefly favoring those living around the Pacific Rim. Observers in Japan and Australia for instance, can see it at, or soon after, moonrise, while those in the western United States and western Canada see it at, or just before, moonset. At maximum, about 37 percent of the moon’s diameter will be immersed in the dark umbra shadow of the Earth.

July 3, 2:52 p.m. EDT — Full Buck Moon...also often called the Full Thunder Moon...[or] the Full Hay Moon. Since the moon arrives at apogee less than 13 hours later, this will also be smallest full moon of 2012. In terms of apparent size, it will appear 12 percent smaller than the full moon of Jan. 10.

Aug. 1, 11:27 p.m. EDT — Full Sturgeon Moon...A few tribes knew this moon as the Full Red Moon...(in 2012, "The Old Farmer’s Almanac" gives this moniker to the full moon of Aug. 31). Other variations include the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

Aug. 31, 9:58 a.m. EDT — Full Corn Moon...This is the second time the moon turns full in a calendar month, so it is also popularly known as a "Blue Moon."
Sept. 29, 11:19 p.m. EDT — Full Harvest Moon...also called the Fruit Moon.
Oct. 29, 3:49 a.m. EDT — Full Hunter’s Moon.
Nov. 28, 9:46 a.m. EST — Full Beaver Moon...also called the Frosty Moon. Since the moon arrives at apogee less than six hours later, this will also be the smallest full moon of 2012. In terms of apparent size, it will appear 12 percent smaller than the full moon of May 5. There is also a penumbral lunar eclipse with this full moon; observers in the western parts of the U.S. and Canada might notice the upper part of the moon appearing slightly darker as 92 percent of the moon’s diameter becomes immersed in the fainter penumbral shadow of Earth. .

Dec. 28, 5:21 a.m. EST — Full Cold Moon...also called the Full Long Night Moon.
*This article is among those I excerpted for last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (100 Year Starship edition) on Daily Kos. The headline article of that diary entry is one that also deserves a "Beginnings" entry of its own, especially given the science fiction slant of this blog. Like Anonymous, expect it.

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