CASPER, Wyo. — The next Full Moon is called the “Snow Moon” and will be over the skies of Wyoming at about 12:30 am Feb. 9.
“The next full Moon will be early on Sunday morning, Feb. 9, appearing ‘opposite’ the Sun (in Earth based longitude) at 2:33 AM EST,” NASA’s Gordon Johnston says. “The Moon will appear full for about three days centered around this time, from Friday evening to Monday morning, making this a full Moon weekend. Centered around Friday to Monday, this will be a full Moon weekend.”
This Full Moon also goes by a number of other names, according to NASA:
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- Snow Moon
- Storm Moon
- Hunger Moon
- Magha Purnima
- Magha Puja
- Mahamuni Pagoda Festival Moon
- Chinese Lantern Festival Moon
- Full Moon of Tu B’Shevat
Johnston explains the origins of some of these names.
“As the midwinter Moon (the second full Moon of winter) and the full Moon in February, this is the Snow Moon, Storm Moon, or the Hunger Moon,” he writes. “The Maine Farmer’s Almanac first published ‘Indian’ names for the full Moons in the 1930’s, and according to this almanac, the tribes of what is now the northeastern United States called this the Snow Moon or the Storm Moon because of the heavy snows that fall in this season.”
“Bad weather and heavy snowstorms made hunting difficult, so this Moon was also called the Hunger Moon. Across North America, there are many different tribes with different languages and different names for the full Moons throughout the year.”
This phase of the Moon also has significance for other cultures.
“In the Hindu and Buddhist calendars, Magha is the lunar month when the full Moon is in the lunar mansion Magha, which contains the star we call Regulus in English,” Johnston explains. “In the Hindu tradition that ends the months on the full Moon day, this full Moon (purnima) is Magha Purnima, the last day of the Hindu month of Magha. Magha is a month for austerity, performing acts of charity, and ritual bathing at holy river locations (generally where three rivers meet).”
“For Buddhists, this full Moon corresponds with Magha Puja, the second-most important festival of the year. Magha Puja celebrates a spontaneous gathering of 1,250 of Buddha’s first disciples. In Myanmar, this full Moon corresponds with the pagoda festival for the Mahamuni Buddha Temple in Mandalay. The tradition is that only a few likenesses of the Buddha were made during his lifetime, and this temple contains one of them.”
The Moon also is important for lunar-based calendars.
“In the Chinese and Hebrew lunisolar calendars the months change with the new Moon and full Moons fall in the middle of the lunar months,” Johnston says. “This full Moon is in the middle of the first month of the Chinese calendar. The 15th day of the first month is the Chinese Lantern Festival, the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebration.”
“This full Moon is in the middle of Shevat in the Hebrew calendar. The 15th day of Shevat is the holiday Tu BiShvat. Tu B’Shevat for the year 2020 is observed on sundown of Sunday, Feb. 9, ending at sundown on Monday, Feb. 10. Tu BiShvat is also called ‘Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot’ (literally “New Year of the Trees”). In contemporary Israel, the day is celebrated as an ecological awareness day, and trees are planted in celebration.”
Islamic culture too sees significance in the Moon.
“In the Islamic calendar the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon shortly after the New Moon,” Johnston says. “This full Moon is near the middle of Jumada al-Thani, the sixth month of the Islamic year.”
“As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon.”