(NEXSTAR) – The “Wolf Moon,” or the first full moon of 2021, will light up the night sky Thursday.
According to NASA, the full moon will reach its fullest phase at 2:16 p.m EST.
It’s said that the Wolf Moon got its name because wolves were heard howling more often during the frigid months, supposedly out of hunger, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
How true that is might be is not clear, as wolves may howl for other reasons, according to the publication.
“It was traditionally thought that they howled due to hunger, but there is no evidence for this,” the Farmer’s Almanac says. “However, wolves do tend to howl more often during winter months, and generally howl to define territory, locate pack members, and gather for hunting.”
The Wolf Moon will reach 98% full on Wednesday night before peaking Thursday, and will still be 99% full on Friday. According to Forbes, it will be the highest full moon of the year.
Because the Wolf Moon will reach its fullest phase during the afternoon, be sure to check the moon phases for your area. Watching the full moon rise and set gives the best chance to see the Wolf Moon in all its glory – it will appear larger and take on a distinct orange color.
“Wolf Moon,” while popular, isn’t the only name for the first full moon of the year. The Old Farmer’s Almanac also cites several names it says have Native American roots, all with a similar theme revolving around the bitter January weather: Cold Moon, Frost Exploding Moon, Severe Moon, Hard moon and Freeze Up Moon.
The next full moon, the Snow Moon, will rise in the early hours of Feb. 27.