The first full moon of 2023 is here: the January 2023 Wolf Moon. This moon is different than most of the other 13 full moons we’ll get to see this year, as it’s a micromoon — and it’s a wonderful treat to bookend the hectic nature of the holiday season with some quiet moon-gazing. So it’s good news, then, that the Wolf Moon is just about to rise in our skies.
Here’s what you need to know about the moon’s name, when it will rise, why it’s called a ‘micromoon,’ and how to view it.
Why is January’s Full Moon called a “Wolf Moon”?
According to The Farmer’s Almanac, the Full Moon of January, called the Wolf Moon, gets its name from several sources, including “Native American, Colonial American, and European” traditions that have been passed down for generations.
Naming January’s Moon the Wolf Moon is a nod to the animal, the site explains. “It’s thought that January’s full Moon came to be known as the Wolf Moon because wolves were more likely to be heard howling at this time,” the Farmer’s Almanac continues.
Other names have been given to January's Moon, too, including Frost Exploding Moon, Severe Moon, Hard Moon, Greetings Moon, and Canada Goose Moon.
Why is January’s Wolf Moon called a “Micromoon”?
A “micromoon” is the term given when a moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth, which happens for us during the winter months.
“The Moon orbits Earth in an elliptical path. One side is nearer to Earth, and one side is farther. This distance does affect the Moon’s size and brightness, although it’s probably not that visible to the naked eye,” The Farmer’s Almanac notes.
When and how can I watch the Full Wolf “Micromoon”?
The Farmer’s Almanac says the Wolf Moon will reach peak illumination on Friday, Jan. 6, at 6:09 PM EST. You can also check out the Moonrise Calculator to ensure you have the best time to see the Moon from where you live.
The Moon isn’t going to be as bright as others since it’s a micromoon. However if you have snow on the ground, it can help make the Moon seem even brighter, thanks to reflections and the extra-dark skies the winter months typically give.
What’s next for the Full Moon? The Snow Moon will hit in February.