Look up tonight! Full Snow Moon will light up the skies around the world this evening as our lunar satellite appears full and bright
- The second full moon of the year is set to put on a stunning spectacle tonight
- February’s is known as ‘Snow Moon’ as it often coincides with heavy snowfall
- Full Snow Moon will reach 100 per cent illumination at 16:56 GMT (11:56 EST)
- Clouds will cover Scotland and parts of England at 18:00 GMT before clearing
The second full moon of the year is set to put on a stunning spectacle tonight as our lunar satellite lights up skies across the world.
Stargazers are in for a treat as the Full Snow Moon reaches 100 per cent illumination at 16:56 GMT (11:56 EST), offering the best view later in the evening when the sun has gone down.
A full moon occurs once every 29.5 days — the length of time it takes for it to go through a whole lunar cycle — and February’s is known as the ‘Snow Moon’ because it often coincides with heavy snowfall.
Astronomers say that to see as many of the surface details of the moon as possible, skywatchers need to give their eyes time to adjust to lower lights and turn off artificial lights sources.
The only way views might be hampered is by cloud cover, which will blanket most of Scotland and the south of England from 18:00 GMT.
Met Office forecasters believe this will largely clear across England and Wales by 21:00 GMT, although some may remain in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Look up! The second full moon of the year is set to put on a show tonight as our lunar satellite lights up skies across the world. The Snow Moon is pictured over Reading in February 2020
The Full Snow Moon is pictured here in February 2021 rising over Eindhoven in the Netherlands
TIPS TO WATCH THE SNOW MOON
Get up high!
The further up you are, the better your chance of a clear sky to see the stars.
Take a hike in your local area and explore the surroundings to find the perfect stargazing spot.
The further you are away from light pollution the better chance you’ll have of seeing the stars.
Moons always rise in the east and set in the west — so follow this direction in your search.
Turn off the lights
For those stargazing from the comfort of their homes, turning off the lights indoors can improve the visibility of the night sky, so long as you’re not afraid of the dark!
Artificial light can make it harder to see stars in the sky so make sure wherever you are is as dark as possible.
SOURCE: Parkdean Resorts
Dr Greg Brown at Royal Observatory Greenwich told MailOnline: ‘Seeing the moon yourself shouldn’t be too difficult, as long as clouds aren’t in the way.
‘It will be easily the brightest object in the night sky and fully visible to the unaided eye; however, a pair of binoculars or a small telescope will enable you to see some of the smaller features on its surface.’
According to Dr Brown, the Full Snow Moon will be close to the bright star Regulus, which is the brightest star in Leo the Lion constellation.
For centuries, full moon names have been used to track the seasons and therefore are closely related to nature.
February’s was also traditionally known as the Hunger Moon because of the challenging hunting conditions at this time of year.
Although 100 per cent illumination of the moon for this month will occur later this afternoon, our natural satellite will appear just as full on Thursday evening, when it will be at 99.7 per cent illumination.
These differences are fractional enough to be imperceptible to the naked eye, so stargazers will effectively have two chances to see the phase of the moon in which its whole disc is illuminated.
Although it will provide a dazzling sight, tonight’s Full Snow Moon won’t be as bright as the ones in 2019 and 2020.
These were what is known as a ‘supermoon’, which occurs when the full moon nearly coincides with perigee — the point in the orbit of the moon at which it is nearest to the Earth.
A FULL MOON is the phase of the moon in which its whole disc is illuminated.
During the 29.5-day lunar cycle, we observe a new moon (with 0 per cent illumination), a waxing moon (when the amount of illumination on the moon is increasing), a full moon (100 per cent illumination) and then a waning moon (when its visible surface area is getting smaller).
Because our modern calendar isn’t quite in line with the Moon’s phases, sometimes we get more than one full Moon in a month. This is commonly known as a blue moon.
Meanwhile, a SUPERMOON is when the full moon nearly coincides with perigee – the point in the orbit of the moon at which it is nearest to the Earth.
This means a supermoon can appear as much as 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than normal, when viewed from Earth, depending on the time of year.
There are about three or four supermoons per year, most astronomy websites claim, and they happen at different times each year.
Lastly, SNOW MOON simply refers to the time of the year the full moon is appearing.
Different months of the year have different nicknames – so January is Wolf Moon, February is Snow Moon, March is Worm Moon and April is Pink Moon.
Full moon names were historically used to track the seasons and therefore are closely related to nature.
This means a supermoon can appear as much as 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than normal when viewed from Earth, depending on the time of year.
‘So long as there’s not too much cloud, the full Moon will be an unmistakable white orb in the sky,’ according to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
‘This is a good opportunity to use a small telescope or a pair of binoculars to see the moon’s detailed surface, or even try taking a few interesting moon photos.’
The observatory said a supermoon will arrive twice in 2022 — on June 14 and again on July 13.
Other astronomy websites also include May 16 and August 12 as supermoon dates for 2022 (although on these dates the moon doesn’t come quite as close to Earth, which is why they’ve been excluded by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich).
Astronomers disagree on what constitutes a supermoon.
The original definition, coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, describes it as a full moon or new moon that comes within 90 per cent of its closest approach to Earth.
FULL MOON NAMES AND THEIR MEANINGS
January: Wolf Moon because wolves were heard more often at this time.
February: Snow Moon to coincide with heavy snow.
March: Worm Moon as the sun increasingly warmed the soil and earthworms became active.
April: Pink Moon as it heralded the appearance of Phlox subulata or moss pink – one of spring’s first flowers.
May: Flower Moon because of the abundance of blossoms.
June: Strawberry Moon because it appeared when the strawberry harvest first took place.
July: Buck Moon as it arrived when a male deer’s antlers were in full growth mode.
August: Sturgeon Moon after the large fish that was easily caught at this time.
September: Corn Moon because this was the time to harvest corn.
October: Hunter’s Moon after the time to hunt in preparation for winter.
November: Beaver Moon because it was the time to set up beaver traps.
December: Cold Moon because nights at this time of year were the longest.
Source: Old Farmer’s Almanac
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