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The Wolf Moon

Once a month or more specifically every 29.5 days we have a full moon. Most people are generally in awe when gazing at the moon, whether it's a sliver (waxing crescent) or at its fullest (full moon), lighting up the night sky. At times the moon can appear close to the earth giving you a sense of wanting to reach out and touch it. At times, you may be in wonderment of the moon's orange/reddish glow as it rises in the eastern sky. Many people revere the moon, its light and its cycles. Some associate the moon with sacredness, the feminine, the cycles of life and everything emotional. Suggestions are made for planting gardens following the cycles of the moon and several cultures have holidays based on the moon phases.

During our school years the moon was the first celestial body we learned about, from the elliptical orbit around Earth of 27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes, (it takes 2.2 days for the moon to change from New Moon to New Moon, hence a full moon every 29.5 days), the waning and waxing cycles-8 distinct phases and the gravitational pull of the moon causing our ocean tides.

Farmers' Almanac

We also learned that the moon's orbital motion is toward the east, moving the moon 12-13 degrees (with respect to fixed stars) further east causing moonrise to occur approximately 50 minutes later each day. This has to do with the speed of the Earth's rotation and the Moon's orbit. Then we learned that every month the moon's elliptical orbit carries it to apogee-its most distant point from the Earth to perigee-its closest point to Earth.

And that brings us to our full moon this month called the Wolf Moon. It occurs Monday, January 17th at 6:48 PM. ET according to the Farmer's Almanac and other sources. It will remain full Monday and Tuesday and then begin the waning gibbous moon phase. According to research, the moon arrived at apogee about 3.5 days earlier, so this will be the smallest moon in 2022. So the moon is about 405,500 kilometers from Earth!

The naming of the monthly full moons began eons ago and originated with Native American culture. It was a way of life, following the phases and cycles of the moon. So January's full moon became known as Wolf Moon named after the howling of the wolves heard more around this time of year. This January full moon is also called the Cold Moon, Old Moon, Ice Moon, the Canada Goose Moon and the list goes on. All represent the harshness and extreme cold temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. And you guessed it - the Southern Hemisphere has completely different names for the full moon.

Throughout 2022 we will have 2 lunar eclipses-May 16th and November 8th. Back to school - a lunar eclipse is when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon and its shadow covers the Moon. That's when the moon appears to have that orange/reddish glow causing awe and wonderment.

We'll also have 2 supermoons, June 14th and July 13th. This is when the moon appears bigger and brighter and you want to reach out and touch it. This is the moon arriving at perigee-a mere 363,300 km from Earth.

And in closing the word 'month' and 'moon' are derived from the same root 'Menon'. A month was defined to be 29 or 30 days equalling the 29.5-day cycle of the lunar phases. So a month is the measured time it takes the moon to complete its cycle.

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