With thirteen full moons, two supermoons, and a blue moon during 2020, sky-gazers have plenty of celestial beauty to look forward to this year. If you missed last month’s full Wolf Moon Eclipse, you can catch the full “Snow Moon” lighting up the night sky.
Why is it called the Snow Moon? You guessed it—snow. In ancient times, it was common to track changing seasons by the lunar month instead of the solar year, which is what our current calendar is based on. According to timeanddate.com, Native American tribes and people across Europe used to name months based on attributes they associated with seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. So the full moon in February is called the Snow Moon because of heavy snowfall that typically occurs throughout the month. It was also called the Hunger Moon because the winter weather created difficult hunting conditions and scarce food sources.
The best time to see the Snow Moon was the night of Saturday, Feb. 8, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. It’ll rise in the east, reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight. And at 2:34 a.m. on Sunday, February 9, it reached its peak fullness. However, according to NASA, Monday afternoon, February 10, at 3:29 PM EST, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit.
Here are the distances of the four closest full moons in 2020:
Full moon (February 9, 2020): 225,234 miles or 362,479 km
Full moon (March 9, 2020): 222,081 miles or 357,404 km
Full moon (April 8, 2020): 221,851 miles or 357,035 km
Full moon (May 7, 2020): 224,429 miles or 361,184 km
As well as being called a Snow Moon, this type of full moon is also traditionally known as the Storm Moon, the Hunger Moon, the Magha Purnima, the Magha Puja, the Mahamuni Pagoda Festival Moon, and the Full Moon of Tu B’Shevat, as per NASA. Which, y’know, is a lot of moons. But there you have it.
While it won’t be the biggest moon of the year like last February’s “Super Snow Moon,” this year’s Snow Moon will be the fourth-closest full moon of the year, according to EarthSky. This means it’ll be the fourth-largest and fourth-brightest full moon of 2020. So wrap up in your coziest blanket and look up at the night sky this weekend!
The photographer Jeff Lani took a magnificent HDR shot of the Snow Moon. On his Facebook profile, he wrote:
I usually feel proud after every image I capture. But this one… this one will have a special place in my heart forever.