Our year’s first full moon rises just as the sun goes down today. This moon is often called the Full Wolf Moon as hungry wolves howl outside villages, although that name might be suspect (more in a moment).
Rising just before sunset, the moon will be a beautiful golden color and its path will arc right across tonight’s clear skies, dropping in the west a bit after dawn. A full night of a full moon! This click2pin came in yesterday:
Much like the July sun which travels high in the sky, this January moon takes the same route high above. As the sun goes down, the moon comes up, mirroring the long summer path. For us, moonrise occurs at 5:34 p.m. with moonset at 8:01 a.m. tomorrow! So if you’re an early riser, you’ll be able to catch a peek of the moon setting in the west before the sun comes up to glare it out.
The Full Wolf Moon?
Notice that question mark. For decades I’ve known January’s moon to be the Full Wolf Moon, the Old Farmer’s Almanac attributed that moniker coming from the lore of hungry, howling wolves outside Native American villages. Supposedly, the Algonquin tribe chose that name. One problem: that name isn’t actually on any list of any tribes.
Cherokee citizen and writer Phil Konstantin, who works for NASA, researched this in 2018 for Indian Country Today and, of 29 tribes, the closest he could find was the Sioux name “wolves run together” moon. The Algonquins, in fact, call the January moon squochee kesos, or “sun has not strength to thaw.” Ask the Eastern United states, currently under 1-10″ of snow if that isn’t a fitting moniker! Winter Storm advisories and warnings continue today from Tennessee to Maine!
Phil also notes that moon names mirror latitude. “For instance, to the Haida in Alaska it’s táan kungáay, or bear-hunting moon. The Hopi in southwest Arizona call it paamuya, moon of life at its height. In the Pacific Northwest it’s atalka, meaning stay inside. Moving farther south, the Choctaw word for the January full moon is rv’fo cusee, which means winter’s little brother (as opposed to December’s moon, rvfo-rakko—big winter).”
So what’s in a name? Not much apparently. After all, it’s the visuals that are so spectacular:
Call it what you will, we have a perfect night to enjoy January’s full moon! In fact, you can see it ALL night!