The Full Wolf Moon Lights Up the Winter Sky

( Enjoy the first Full Moon of 2021! )

The Full Cold Moon was the last Full Moon of 2020. This week, meet the first Full Moon of the year! When is the Full Moon in January 2021? Why is it called Full Wolf Moon? Read on to find it out!

The Full Wolf Moon graces the night sky in January

These next few evenings, enjoy the full-looking Moon adorning the winter sky from dusk till dawn. In common usage, the Moon can be said to be full for a few days, but astronomically speaking, it turns full at a particular moment, when it lies directly opposite the Sun. Our natural satellite will officially reach its exact full phase on January 28, 2021, at 2:16 p.m. EST (19:16 GMT), when the elongation between the Sun and the Moon will be 180°. The January Full Moon shines among the stars of the constellation Cancer.

The bright lunar disk will light up the eastern part of the sky at dusk. Around midnight, the Full Wolf Moon will reach its highest point in the sky. You can also see the Moon shining in the west shortly before sunrise. Over the following nights, the Moon will appear above the horizon around an hour later each day.

Take advantage of Ephemeris, a must-have app for outdoor photographers, to get a perfect shot of the January Full Moon! Use this essential photo planner tool to predict the Sun, the Milky Way, and the Moon’s position, sunrise and sunset times, golden hour, blue hour, twilight, and other special moments for amazing pictures. Calculate the Wolf Moon’s best position to capture it at its brightest and largest, and share your stunning shots with us on social media!

What is a Full Wolf Moon?

Names for the Full Moons derive from Native American, Colonial American, and other North American traditions. They are associated with the сharacteristic features of a particular season. Let’s look into the question of Full Wolf Moon meaning.

The January Full Moon is named due to the howling of the wolves that can be heard in this time of year more often than at any other season. The wolves were traditionally believed to howl because of hunger during winter. Today we know that these animals howl for other reasons: for instance, the wolves use vocalizations to define territory or coordinate hunting. Nevertheless, the name stuck, and now we continue to call the January Full Moon by its traditional name. Other names include Hunger Moon, Frost Moon, Snow Moon, and Severe Moon and are associated with the winter season’s harsh conditions.

The Moon’s path in the sky

In late January, the Sun shines in the constellation Capricornus, while the Full Wolf Moon passes in front of the constellation Cancer. The Sun traverses Cancer in late July and early August. The Full Moon takes up the Sun’s position in the sky for the next six months, and therefore the observers from both hemispheres can note the contrast between the path of the Sun and that of the Full Moon.

In the Northern Hemisphere, at midnight, the Full Wolf Moon is very high in the winter sky — just like the noonday summer Sun. Moreover, the January Full Moon remains visible for 24 hours in the regions north of the Arctic Circle. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere observers will see the Full Wolf Moon sitting rather low in the sky at its highest point around midnight. South of the Antarctic Circle, our natural satellite stays below the horizon for 24 hours.

Wishing you clear skies and happy stargazing!




Point your device at the sky and see what stars, constellations, and satellites you are looking at 🌌✨

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Schwinn a40 elliptical trainer Is One of the Very Best

A Bit of Light Science — How the Flat Space Society Menaced the Universe

Mars: The Ultimate Guide

Bright Regulus Chasing the Moon and Venus

September Meteor Showers: Complete Guide

Happy Easter 2020!

Why terrain classification is so important for space exploration?

Using Photonic Propulsion and Computer Vision to Explore Deep Space

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Star Walk

Star Walk

Point your device at the sky and see what stars, constellations, and satellites you are looking at 🌌✨

More from Medium

Glossary of Photographer’s Woo: Low Element Count Lenses

Alumni News & Notes

Drink in a Box — Cognac

A bottle of amber liquid

Deep-Sky Objects in July 2022