Snow Moon 2021: what is it, meaning of the name – and how to see the full moon in the UK this weekend
The Snow Moon will appear in the early hours of Saturday 27 February, with the official peak happening at 8.17am
The night sky will be dominated this weekend by 2021’s ‘Snow' Moon.
It's sure to be a spectacularly bright moon for those lucky enough to see it, but just why does it have that name? And will it look any different to observers on Earth?
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is a Snow Moon?
The majority of pre-modern calendars used the moon as the basis for the names of their months, a convention ended by the introduction of the solar Julian and Gregorian calendars.
In modern times, the moons have developed new names, the majority of which have roots attributed to Native American traditions. They tend to hold particular resonance with the time of year in which they fall, and have gained ground in American folklore in recent years.
It’s thought these names are "Colonial American", and were adopted from the Algonquian languages of the native peoples who lived in the area of the country, which is now New England.
The name 'Snow Moon' is applied to the full moon of February, simply because that is the month in which the seasonal weather is most common.
It is also known as a 'hunger moon' or 'storm moon' reflected again by the traits of the long, cold, stormy winter months.
Will it look any different?
The moon will not appear any different to how it normally does when it’s in its full phase.
The name ‘Snow’ simply derives from the time of year, and has no bearing on what the lunar body will actually look like in our sky.
When is the February full moon?
The February full moon will be in the skies above the UK tonight – the evening of Saturday 27 February.
It will technically be at its fullest at around 8.17am, though it will have set in the sky roughly an hour before this time.
It will rise again in the east at around 5.46pm on Saturday evening, when you will get a chance to see the moon looking bright in the sky once more.
It won’t set again until 7.45am the next morning, so you’ll have plenty of time to observe it over the course of the night.
How can I see it?
As usual, the full moon will be perfectly visible to the naked eye, and all you need to see it is clear night skies, something that can be hard to come by in the January skies of the UK.
At the time of writing, the Met Office is forecasting a “band of cloud” and “odd spots” of rain “sinking into parts of northern England.”
Those in England might be better often attempting to catch a glimpse of the moon tonight, when it’s nearly at its fullest. That's because the weather is forecast to be “largely clear.”
Those in Scotland may have more luck in spotting the moon, with the forecast there predicting eastern areas of Scotland will receive decent amounts of sunshine and feel pleasant by afternoon, suggesting clearer skies in the evening.