Did you see the year’s first full Moon of 2022?
Known as the “Wolf Moon,” the time to catch February’s full Moon was as it appeared on the eastern horizon, which it duly did at dusk on Monday, January 17, 2022.
There are few sights as magical as a moonrise in clear skies and this year’s “Wolf Moon” was no exception. It was captured around the world at moonrise and also in the nights preceding our natural satellite’s “full” phase, when it looked near-full.
Here’s a sample of just a few of the best images of the “Wolf Moon” at its biggest, brightest and best:
The full Wolf Moon was 100% lit by the Sun on Monday, January 17, 2022 while in the constellation of Cancer, the Crab. That moment came at precisely 23:48 UTC—that’s 18:48 EST and 15:48 PST.
However, it’s always best to view the full Moon not when it’s high in the sky, but when it’s low on the horizon. You can do that at dusk on the date of the full Moon, which always appears in the eastern sky.
When observed rising (or setting) not only does the moon look larger to the human brain when it is close to the horizon, but there is far less glare. If you have (any pair of) binoculars it’s the perfect time to go look at both its lunar mare—ancient lava seas—and its many craters.
There will be 12 full Moons in 2022, with two “supermoons,” with the slightly-larger-and-brighter-than-usual “Buck Moon” on July 13, 2022 and the “Sturgeon Moon” on August 10, 2022.
There will also be a “Black Moon” on April 30, 2022, but that’s simply a calendar quirk—the second full Moon in the same month. Since the Moon orbits the Earth every 29 days that’s bound to happen sometimes.
Two of the full Moons in 2022 are also total lunar eclipses—also called “Blood Moons”—which can only occur when the Earth is precisely between the Sun and the full Moon. During both the “Flower Moon” on May 16, 2022 and the “Frosty Moon” on November 8, 2022 the full Moon will pass through Earth’s shadow cone in space.
The gravitational pull of the Moon on the Earth causes tides in our oceans, which scientists think may have sped-up the evolution of life by transporting heat around the planet, thus encouraging migrations.
The speed at which Earth rotates is thought to be a result of a giant impact 4.5 billion years ago with a Mars-sized object, of which the Moon may be a leftover.
There are thought to be over 200 moons in our Solar System. The only planets which don’t have any moons are Mercury and Venus. So moons are really important.
Last week a candidate “exomoon” was discovered orbiting a Jupiter-like giant planet in a distant star system. If confirmed it could help astronomers understand how these systems formed and evolved.
The next full Moon will be the “Snow Moon” on February 16, 2022. It’s also called the “Storm Moon” and “Hunger Moon.” The Moon will appear full or thereabouts for about three nights.
Before that comes a New Moon on February 1, 2022, which will signal the beginning of the Lunar New Year—also called Chinese New Year—and the “Year Of The Water Tiger.”
New Moon is when our satellite is between the Earth and the Sun, so it’s not visible to us. However, the New Moon’s position means that sometimes a New Moon can cause a solar eclipse. That will happen twice in 2022, with partial eclipses on both April 30 and October 25, 2022.
Perhaps the strangest lunar event this year will occur on December 8, 2022 when a super-bright Mars is occulted by the full “Cold Moon.” The hour-long event will be visible from a narrow path across Earth, which includes North America and Europe.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.