Search the night sky this weekend for the February full moon, glimpses of which can be seen around the world.
According to NASA, it will reach maximum illumination this Sunday around 1:29 p.m. ET, but the moon will be visible at full through Saturday morning into Tuesday morning.
According to EarthSky, the full moon is considered a micromoon because it appears slightly smaller than normal in our sky due to its location further down in orbit around Earth. January’s full moon was also a micromoon.
The Moon will still be very bright even though it is 405,830 kilometers (252,171 miles) away.
It is known as the Snow Moon, according to the Farmers Almanac, because February is associated with more snowfall in North America. The Arapaho tribe’s name for the February full moon means “the frost that glistens in the sun,” according to a guide compiled by Western Washington University.
The winter-sounding names for the February full moon differ among other Native American tribes. Comanches call it hail moonwhile the Lakota know it as canpop yes, which means “when the trees break through the cold”. The month was also associated with famine and lack of food sources, hence the Kalapuya tribe’s lunar name Achiulatdash, or “without food”.
Europeans refer to the February full moon as the Candle Moon, which is associated with Candlemas on 2 February, or the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ. The moon also coincides with the end of the Lunar New Year celebration, which is the Lantern Festival.
The full moon falls in the middle of the month of Shevat and falls on the Hebrew calendar’s Tu Bishvat holiday, or “New Year of Trees”, which is celebrated by planting trees and raising ecological awareness.
Here, the rest of the main events in the sky of 2023, so you can get your binoculars and telescope ready.
full moon and supermoon
In most years, there are 12 full moons, one for each month. But 2023 will have 13 full moons, two of which will occur in August.
According to NASA, the second full moon in a month is known as a blue moon, after the phrase “Once in a Blue Moon”. Usually a full moon occurs every 29 days. But most months on our calendar are 30 or 31 days long, so the months and moon phases don’t always line up, resulting in a blue moon every two and a half years.
According to EarthSky, two full moons in August can also be considered supermoons. Definitions of a supermoon vary, but the term usually refers to a full moon that is brighter and closer to Earth than normal, and therefore appears larger in the night sky.
Some astronomers say the phenomenon occurs when the Moon is within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to orbiting Earth. By that definition, the July full moon would also be considered a supermoon event, according to EarthSky.
Here’s a list of the remaining full moons for 2023, according to the Farmers Almanac:
- March 7: Worm Moon
- April 6: Pink Moon
- May 5: Flower Moon
- June 3: Strawberry Moon
- July 3: Thunder Moon
- August 1: Sturgeon Moon
- August 30: Blue Moon
- September 29: Harvest Moon
- October 28: Hunter’s Moon
- November 27: Beaver Moon
- December 26: Cold Moon
These are popular names associated with the monthly full moon, but each has its own meaning (and also goes by many different names) in Native American tribes.
Mark your calendars with the top meteor shower dates to watch in 2023:
- Lyrids: April 22-23
- Eta Aquarids: May 5-6
- Southern Delta Aquarids: July 30-31
- Alpha Capricorn: July 30-31
- Perseids: August 12-13
- Orionids: October 20-21
- Southern Taurids: November 4-5
- Northern Taurids: November 11-12
- Leonidas: November 17-18
- Geminids: December 13-14
- Ursids: December 21-22
If you live in an urban area, you may want to drive somewhere that isn’t filled with bright city lights to watch the rain. If you can find an area that isn’t affected by light pollution, meteors can be visible every two minutes from dusk to dawn, depending on what part of the world you are in.
Find an open area with a wide view of the sky. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look up. And give your eyes 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the dark — without looking at your phone — so meteors will be easier to spot.
solar and lunar eclipse
There will be two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses in 2023.
There will be a total solar eclipse on April 20, which will be visible from Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Antarctica. This type of event occurs when the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth, blocking the Sun.
And for some skywatchers in Indonesia, parts of Australia and Papua New Guinea, it will be a hybrid solar eclipse. According to NASA, the curvature of Earth’s surface can cause some eclipses to switch between total and annular, as the Moon’s shadow moves around the globe.
Like a total solar eclipse, the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth during an annular eclipse, but it occurs when the Moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth, according to NASA. This makes the Moon appear smaller than the Sun, so it does not block our star completely and forms a bright ring around the Moon.
On October 14, an annular solar eclipse will be widespread in the Western Hemisphere and visible across the American continent.
Be sure to wear proper eclipse glasses to view solar eclipses safely, as sunlight can damage your eyes.
Meanwhile, a lunar eclipse can only occur during a full moon when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned and the Moon falls into Earth’s shadow. When this happens, the Earth casts two shadows on the Moon during an eclipse. Partial outer shade is called penumbra; The full, black shadow is the womb.
When the full moon enters the Earth’s shadow, it darkens, but does not disappear. Instead, sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere illuminates the Moon in a dramatic way, turning it red, which is why the phenomenon is often referred to as a “blood moon”.
Depending on the weather conditions in your region, it may be red or brick-colored. This is because blue light undergoes more intense atmospheric scattering, so red light will be the dominant color when sunlight passes through the atmosphere and is projected onto the Moon.
Africa, Asia and Australia will have a penumbral lunar eclipse on May 5. This less dramatic version of a lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the penumbra, or the dim outer part of Earth’s shadow.
A partial lunar eclipse of the hunter’s moon on October 28 will be visible from Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, parts of North America and most of South America. A partial eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are not perfectly aligned, so only part of the Moon goes into shadow.