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How can I see the Snow Moon 2022?

Snow Moon 2022: How to see February’s full Moon in the UK tonight

Published: 16th February, 2022 at 12:00
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Find out when you can see this week’s full Moon, the Snow Moon, at its biggest and brightest.

For the northern hemisphere, February is a quiet month for astronomical events, so it’s a good time to look towards our nearest celestial neighbour for February's full Moon, the Snow Moon. That is, if the clouds hold…

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So, when exactly can you see the Snow Moon? And why does it have that rather chilly-sounding name? Answers to this, and more, in this article, how to see the Snow Moon.

For those who missed it, you can check out our fantastic gallery of the best Wolf Moon pictures, the first full Moon of 2022. If you’re looking to take advantage of the clear nights this year, why not have a look at our full Moon UK calendar and astronomy for beginners guide.

When can I see the Snow Moon 2022?

The Snow Moon can be seen on Wednesday 16 February 2022 in the UK and around the world. Looking up into the night sky, the Snow Moon will be 4.8° north of Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion.

The Snow Moon will reach peak illumination at 4:56pm in the UK. On Wednesday night, from London, moonrise will take place at 4:52pm. This peak will occur just before sunset, which is at 5:17pm in London, when the Moon is still low in the sky. So the best time to see the Snow Moon will be in the early evening, once it has risen higher in the sky.

As the Moon is constantly moving around the Earth, technically, the Moon is only full for an instant, when 100 per cent of the Moon’s face is illuminated by the Sun (this moment has a rather fabulous name – syzygy). However, to the naked eye, it will appear full for three days.

If you miss the Snow Moon on Wednesday, it will also appear full the day before and the day after. On Tuesday 15 February, moonrise is at 3:37pm BST and, weather permitting, the Moon will be at 99.3 per cent illumination. On Thursday 17 February, moonrise is at 6:09pm BST, and the Moon will be at 99.7 per cent illumination.

The best time to see the Snow Moon will be after sunset, when the Moon has risen higher in the sky © Getty
The best time to see the Snow Moon will be after sunset, when the Moon has risen higher in the sky © Getty

Why is it called a Snow Moon?

Due to the cumulative cooling and relatively low Sun angle in the northern hemisphere, February is often the coldest month. Most countries on either side of the Atlantic will see snowfall, and it’s widely accepted that this is where the name Snow Moon comes from. In North America, some tribes refer to it as the Storm Moon or Hunger Moon, in reference to the scarcity of food and difficulty hunting during snowy conditions.

“Both of those cultural names for February’s full Moon makes sense when you consider the climate. It is coldest in January and February, so they are the months when snow is more common and wild food sources are hard to find,” says Dr Darren Baskill, Physics and Astronomy lecturer at the University of Sussex.

Is the Snow Moon in 2022 a supermoon?

No, the Snow Moon in February 2022 is not a supermoon. A supermoon occurs when the Moon, which orbits the Earth in an elliptical orbit, is at its closest point to Earth along this orbit. This point is called the perigee, and when the Moon reaches perigee at the same time as a full Moon – we get a supermoon.

Conversely, when a full Moon is close to the apogee (the furthest point in its orbit around Earth), the Moon appears smaller and is known as a micromoon.

The first supermoon of 2022 will be 14 June 2022, the Strawberry Moon.

How often are full Moons?

Full Moons occur every 29.5 days, which is the length of time it takes the Moon to orbit the Earth and complete one lunar phase cycle, that is, from new Moon to new Moon. There are 12 full moons in a year, and they are a result of the Moon being completely illuminated by the Sun’s rays. This happens when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon.

How can I see the Snow Moon 2022?
A diagram showing the phases of the Earth's Moon. February's Snow Moon is a full Moon that will occur on 16 February 2022, when the Moon is fully illuminated by the Sun © Getty

The next full Moon, and the last full Moon of winter, will occur on 18 March 2022, just three days before the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This particular full Moon goes by many different names, including ‘Crow Moon’, ‘Sap Moon’ ‘Lenten Moon’ and ‘Worm Moon’ – the latter of which is the most popular, here in the UK.

What is a Black Moon?

With full Moons occurring once every 29.5 days, you usually get one a month. However, February has 28 days or 29 in a Leap Year. This means that sometimes there is no full Moon in February, and this usually happens every 19 years or so. This is what is known as a Black Moon. However, it’s not to be confused with the other definition of Black Moon – when there are two new Moons in a calendar month.

About our expert, Dr Darren Baskill

Dr Baskill is an outreach officer and lecturer in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Sussex. He previously lectured at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, where he also initiated the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. He is also a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of the Institute of Physics.

Discover more about the Moon:

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Authors

Holly SpannerStaff Writer, BBC Science Focus

Holly is the staff writer at BBC Science Focus. Before joining the team she was a geoenvironmental consultant and holds an MSc in Geoscience from UCL.

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