Image for article titled When to See the Wolf Moon in January

Image: Denis Andricic (Shutterstock)

January’s full moon, sometimes called the Wolf Moon, will rise on the northeastern horizon on Monday, Jan. 17 at 6:51 pm, East Coast time. The moon will look full for three nights, beginning on Sunday and ending on Wednesday.

If you want to know the exact moonrise and moonset times where you are, check out this awesome moon calculator from the farmers/web developers at The Farmer’s Almanac.

Why January’s full moon is called “the wolf moon”

There’s no official names for a given month’s full moon. The unofficial names of moons are derived from Native American, Colonial American, and European sources, and usually refer to the entire lunar cycle, so the name is more for the whole month than the moon itself.

January’s moon is called the Wolf Moon because wolves are more likely to be heard howling in late January and early February—it’s their breeding season.

(A side-note about howling wolves: According to National Geographic, wolves don’t actually howl at the full moon. They howl all the time, night and day, for a variety of reasons. It’s thought that the belief that wolves howl at the moon comes from the fact that people were more likely to be outside at night during full moons, and thus more likely to hear wolves howling then.)

Other names for January’s full moon

Like all moons, January’s has a variety of names, drawn from different places and times, including the Moon After Yule (I think I get that one), the Old Moon, the Ice Moon (sure), the Snow Moon (got it), and the cold moon or hard moon. My favorite alternative moon names for January are the “Frost Exploding Moon,” “Center Moon” (from the Assiniboine people of the Northern Great Plains, and so-named because it’s the middle of the cold season) and the “Christ, It’s Cold Out Moon,” which I just made up.

My sources assure me that February will also feature a full moon. Stay tuned for more!