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Complete list of every full moon in 2018, including January's Wolf moon
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Keep your eyes on the skies for the next full moon as January's first - dubbed the Wolf Moon - will be a supermoon, lighting up the skies on January 2. Stargazers are in for a treat as January will have two full moons. The second full moon, falling on January 31, is also a supermoon (and, as it will be the second moon of the month, is a blue moon). The moon is the largest and brightest object in our night sky and has enchanted and inspired mankind for centuries, taking centre stage earlier this year year as it eclipsed the sun on August 21. Total solar eclipses are a rare breed, but full moons can be admired every month: the next one to grace our skies is due to peak in early January.  Here is everything you need to know about Earth's only natural satellite, from all its different names to how it was formed. How often does a full moon occur? Afull moon occurs every 29.5 days and is when the Moon is completely illuminated by the Sun's rays. It occurs when Earth is directly aligned between the Sun and the Moon.  Why do full moons have names? The early Native Americans didn't record time using months of the Julian or Gregorian calendar. Instead tribes gave each full moon a nickname to keep track of the seasons and lunar months. Most of the names relate to an activity or an event that took place at the time in each location. However, it wasn't a uniform system and tribes tended to name and count moons differently. Some, for example, counted four seasons a year while others counted five. Others defined a year as 12 moons, while others said there were 13. Colonial Americans adopted some of the moon names and applied them to their own calendar system which is why they're still in existence today, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. January: Wolf Moon This moon was named because villagers used to hear packs of wolves howling in hunger around this time of the year. It's other name is the Old Moon. This January there will be two Wolf Moons - and stargazers will be in for a treat as both will be supermoons. When two moons occur in one month, the second is called a blue moon. While blue moons typically occur only once every two to three years, this year we will be treated to two moons - the second appearing at the end of March. The night following the first full moon of the month will see the Quadrantid meteor shower light up the skies, although the moon's bright glare will make it more difficult to spot. When? January 2 and January 31 February: Snow Moon Snow moon is named after the white stuff because historically it's always been the snowiest month in America. It's also traditionally referred to as the Hunger Moon, because hunting was very difficult in snowy conditions.  However this year there won't be a Snow Moon - with a full moon occurring at the end of January and another at the beginning of March, we won't see one light up the skies during the year's shortest month. When? There will be no full moon this month The full Snow Moon appears red above London's Albert bridge and Battersea Bridge in 2012 Credit: Anthony Devlin March: Worm Moon As temperatures warm, earthworm casts begin to appear and birds begin finding food. It's also known as Sap Moon, Crow Moon and Lenten Moon. There will be two moons this March, one at the start of the month and one at the end. As in January, the second moon of the month is called a blue moon. The second moon of the month is important because it is used to fix the date of Easter, which is always the Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. This year, that moon appears on Saturday March 31, which means Easter Sunday falls the day after, on April 1. When? March 2 and 31 April: Pink Moon April's full moon is known as the Pink Moon, but don't be fooled into thinking it will turn pink. It's actually named after pink wildflowers, which appear in the US and Canada in early spring.  This moon is also known as Egg Moon, due to spring egg-laying season. Some coastal tribes referred to it as Fish Moon because it appeared at the same time as the shad swimming upstream.  When? April 30 May: Flower Moon Spring has officially sprung by the time May arrives, and flowers and colourful blooms dot the landscape. This moon is also known as Corn Planting Moon, as crops are sown in time for harvest, or Bright Moon because this full moon is known to be one of the brightest. Some people refer to it as Milk Moon. When?  May 29 June: Strawberry Moon This moon is named after the beginning of the strawberry picking season. It's other names are Rose Moon, Hot Moon, or Hay Moon as hay is typically harvested around now. This moon appears in the same month as the summer solstice, the longest day of the year (June 21) in which we can enjoy approximately 17 hours of daylight. When? June 28 The so-called 'Strawberry Moon' rises behind Glastonbury Tor on in June 2016.  Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images July: Thunder Moon Named due to the prevalence of summer thunder storms. It's sometimes referred to as the Full Buck Moon because at this time of the year a buck's antlers are fully grown.  When? July 27 August: Sturgeon Moon Tribes in North America typically caught Sturgeon during this month, but also it is when grain and corn were gathered so is also referred to as Grain Moon.  This moon appears in the same month as the Perseid meteor shower. When? August 26 September: Harvest Moon The Harvest Moon is the name given to the first full moon that takes place closest to the Autumn equinox, which this year will come on September 23. The Harvest Moon arrived late last year, on October 5 - it normally rises in September. It was during September that most of the crops were harvested ahead of the autumn and this moon would give light to farmers so they could carry on working longer in the evening. Some tribes also called it the Barley Moon, the Full Corn Moon or Fruit Moon.  When? September 25 October: Hunter's Moon As people planned ahead for the cold months ahead, the October moon came to signify the ideal time for hunting game, which were becoming fatter from eating falling grains. This moon is also known as the travel moon and the dying grass moon. When? October 24 November: Frost Moon The first of the winter frosts historically begin to take their toll around now and winter begins to bite, leading to this month's moon moniker. It is also known as the Beaver Moon. When?November 23 December: Cold Moon Nights are long and dark and winter's grip tightens, hence this Moon's name. With Christmas just a few weeks away, it's also referred to as Moon before Yule and Long Nights Moon. When? December 22 Clouds clear to allow a view of the final full moon of the year, a so-called 'Cold Moon' on December 13 2016 in Cornwall. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images Once in a blue moon Does this well-known phrase have anything to do with the moon? Well, yes it does. We use it to refer to something happening very rarely and a blue moon is a rare occurrence. It's the name given to a second full moon that occurs in a single calendar month and this typically occurs only once every two to three years. There's lots of other moons, too: Full moon: We all know what these are. They come around every month and light up the night at night. Harvest moon: The full moon closest to the autumn equinox. Black moon: Most experts agree that this refers to the second new moon in a calendar month. The last black moon was at the start of October 2016 and the next one is expected in 2019. Blue moon: A phenomenon that occurs when there is a second full moon in one calendar month. Joe Rao from space.com explains: "A second full moon in a single calendar month is sometimes called a blue moon. A black moon is supposedly the flip side of a blue moon; the second new moon in a single calendar month." Supermoon is seen behind the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, in May 2012. Credit: AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano The infrequent nature of this lunar event led to the phrase "once in a blue moon" to signify a rare occurrence. It does not actually mean the moon will be blue. Blood moon: Also known as a supermoon lunar eclipse. It's when the shadow of Earth casts a reddish glow on the moon, the result of a rare combination of an eclipse with the closest full moon of the year.  There was one in September 2015, and before that in 1982 but the next one won't be until 2033.  Strawberry moon: A rare event when there's a full moon on the same day as the summer solstice. It happened in June 2016 for the first time since 1967 when 17 hours of sunlight gave way to a bright moonlit sky. Despite the name, the moon does appear pink or red. The romantic label was coined by the Algonquin tribes of North America who believed June’s full moon signalled the beginning of the strawberry picking season. What is a supermoon? Ever looked up at the night sky to see a full moon so close you could almost touch it? Well you've probably spotted a supermoon. The impressive sight happens when a full moon is at the point in its orbit that brings it closest to Earth. To us Earth-lings, it appears 30 per cent brighter and 14 per cent bigger to the naked eye.  Supermoon is not an astrological term though. It's scientific name is actually Perigee Full Moon, but supermoon is more catchy and is used by the media to describe our celestial neighbour when it gets up close. Astrologer Richard Nolle first came up with the term supermoon and he defined it as "… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit", according to earthsky.org. How many supermoons are there in 2018? There are two full moon supermoons this year, both taking place in the first month of the year. The first will appear on January 2 and the second will appear on January 31. As it will be the second moon of the month, the latter moon is also known as a blue moon. There will also be two new moon supermoons in 2018: one on July 13 and another on August 11. Unfortunately, stargazers were unable to see these moons as new moons are generally obscured by the light of the sun. Last year we were lucky enough to have four supermoons. The first three - April 26, May 25, June 24 - were new moons.  The fourth supermoon of 2017 appeared on December 3 and was a full moon supermoon. This will be a full moon supermoon. In fact, it's the first of three full moon supermoons in a row.  Supermoon rises over Auckland, New Zealand in August 2014. Credit: Simon Runting/REX What do I look for? Head outside at sunset when the moon is closest to the horizon and marvel at its size. As well as being closer and brighter, the moon (clouds permitting) should also look orange and red in colour. Why? Well, as moonlight passes through the thicker section of the atmosphere, light particles at the red end of the spectrum don't scatter as easily as light at the blue end of the spectrum. So when the moon looks red, you're just looking at red light that wasn't scattered. As the moon gets higher in the sky, it returns to its normal white/yellow colour.  Will the tides be larger? Yes. When full or new moons are especially close to Earth, it leads to higher tides. Tides are governed by the gravitational pull of the moon and, to a lesser extent, the sun. Because the sun and moon go through different alignments, this affects the size of the tides. Tell me more about the moon The moon is 4.6 billion years old and was formed between 30-50 million years after the solar system. It is smaller than Earth - about the same size as Pluto in fact. Its surface area is less than the surface area of Asia - about 14.6 million square miles according to space.com Gravity on the moon is only 1/6 of that found on Earth. The moon is not round, but is egg-shaped with the large end pointed towards Earth. It would take 135 days to drive by car to the moon at 70 mph (or nine years to walk). The moon has "moonquakes" caused by the gravitational pull of Earth. Experts believe the moon has a molten core, just like Earth.  How was the Moon formed? How the Moon was formed Man on the Moon Only 12 people have ever walked on the moon and they were all American men, including (most famously) Neil Armstrong who was the first in 1969 on the Apollo II mission.  The last time mankind sent someone to the moon was in 1972 when Gene Cernan visited on the Apollo 17 mission. Although Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin was the first man to urinate there. While millions watched the moon landing on live television, Aldrin was forced to go in a tube fitted inside his space suit. Buzz Aldrin Jr. beside the U.S. flag after man reaches the Moon for the first time during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.  Credit: AP When the astronauts took off their helmets after their moonwalk, they noticed a strong smell, which Armstrong described as “wet ashes in a fireplace” and Aldrin as “spent gunpowder”. It was the smell of moon-dust brought in on their boots. The mineral, armalcolite, discovered during the first moon landing and later found at various locations on Earth, was named after the three Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil ARMstrong, Buzz ALdrin and Michael COLlins. An estimated 600 million people watched the Apollo 11 landing live on television, a world record until 750 million people watched the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. One of President Nixon’s speechwriters had prepared an address entitled: “In Event of Moon Disaster”. It began: “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay to rest in peace.” If the launch from the Moon had failed, Houston was to close down communications and leave Armstrong and Aldrin to their death.  How the Daily Telegraph reported Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon in 1969 read more
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