Despite the wind and rain, we've been offered decent stargazing conditions here in the UK over the last few days.


Early risers have been treated to a rare glimpse of Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF, more memorably dubbed the Green Comet, which made its closest approach to Earth between 6:30 - 7am on 2 February.

It's still visible for a week or so, and those of you with binoculars or telescopes might even catch a glimpse of it as it heads close to Mars on 10 February 2023.

However, chances of spotting the green comet in the coming days are somewhat hampered by the full Snow Moon, so it's a good opportunity to turn our eyes to our nearest celestial neighbour.

So when can you see the Snow mini-Moon? Why is it particularly small this month? What constellation is the Moon in? And, does a full Moon really affect your mood?

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and 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 2023?

The full Snow Moon is the second full Moon of the new year. It will be visible Sunday 5 February 2023 and can be seen in the late afternoon, rising high overhead in the evening in the UK and the northern hemisphere.

The Moon will rise into the still-light sky in the northeast at 4:23pm on Sunday 5 February 2023. It will set at 8:22am the next morning in the west-northwest, on 6 February 2023 as seen from London (times vary with location).

If weather spoils the occasion, or you are unable to see the full Snow Moon at its peak, it will also appear full the night before, and the night after.

What constellation will the Snow Moon be in?

On 3 February, the Moon passes 1.9 degrees south of Pollux, the brightest star in the constellation Gemini.

On the day of full, the Moon will be situated midway between the constellations Cancer the Crab and Leo the Lion. On 6 February 2023, the Moon will be 4.5 degrees north of Regulus, the brightest star in Leo.

Later on in the month, on 14 February (Valentine's Day), the Moon will be 1.8 degrees north of Antares in Scorpius, before moving into Taurus the Bull at the end of the month on 28 February, when it will be 1.1 degrees north of Mars.

The Snow Moon will reach peak illumination at 6:28pm GMT on 5 February 2023 © NASA/ESA/ESO/Space Telescope Science Institute/IAU Minor Planet Center/Fabien Chereau/ Noctua Software

When is the best time to see the Snow Moon?

The Snow Moon will reach peak illumination at 6:28pm GMT on 5 February 2023. For us here in the UK, this means that peak illumination will occur around two hours after the Moon has risen.

When the Moon is at peak illumination, it will be at a distance of around 404,184.89 km away from Earth, and at magnitude -12.53.

The best time to see the Snow Moon will be on the evening of 5 February 2023. Sunset occurs at 4:56pm (times vary with location), and as the Moon will have just risen by this time, we should be offered a good view of a full Snow Moon later into the evening and throughout the night as it rises higher into the sky.

For observers in the UK, conditions are looking clear on Sunday 5 February. There might be occasional cloud cover, but following a cold, bright day we may allow ourselves to be cautiously optimistic.

Why is it called a Snow Moon?

Due to the relatively low Sun angle and cumulative cooling 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 this is where the name originates.

In North America, some tribes refer to it as the Storm Moon or Hunger Moon, referencing the scarcity of food and difficulty hunting during snowy conditions.

“Both of those cultural names for February’s full Moon make 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.

How will the full Snow Moon affect me?

Despite what your astrology predictions say, the full Snow Moon itself has not been proven to have a direct effect on individuals, as its influence is primarily limited to tidal forces and gravitational interactions with the Earth and its oceans.

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However, some people may feel they are affected by the changing energy and atmosphere that the full moon can bring, such as increased feelings of restlessness or heightened emotions.

Additionally, the bright light of a full Moon can make it easier for people to stay up late at night, which can affect their sleep patterns.

Ultimately, the effects of the full Snow Moon (or any full Moon), on an individual can vary and are largely subjective.

Is the Snow Moon in 2023 a micro-Moon?

Not exactly. A micro-Moon is a full Moon that occurs near the time when the Moon is at its farthest point from the Earth in its orbit. That means a Moon approximately 405,000km away from us.

However, at its fullest, this month's Moon will be just under 404,000km from Earth – not quite reaching the 'micro' threshold. However, the Moon will still appear much smaller than normal.

Is the Snow Moon in 2023 a supermoon?

No, the Snow Moon in 2023 is not a supermoon.

A supermoon is an unofficial classification for when the Moon is situated 360,000km (or less) away from Earth in its orbital path, and we'll often have two or three full supermoons in a row.

In 2022, the Strawberry Moon (June), the Buck Moon (July) and the Sturgeon Moon (August) were all supermoons.

We have to wait until the summer to see another supermoon, which will be on 1 August 2023. This will be followed by a rare blue supermoon at the end of the month on 30 August 2023.

What is the lunar cycle?

The lunar cycle refers to the continuous series of changes that the Moon undergoes as it orbits the Earth, including its phases (New Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Third Quarter, and Waning Crescent) and its relative position in the sky with respect to the Sun.

The lunar cycle takes around 29.53 days to complete, which is why the term 'lunar month' is often used to describe the time period between successive full moons.

A full Moon occurs when the Moon is fully illuminated by the Sun, which happens when the Earth is positioned directly between the Sun and the Moon.


In other words, the Moon is located precisely 180° opposite the Sun in ecliptic longitude. We usually have 12 full Moons in one calendar year, although some years we can have 13. The extra full Moon is known as a 'Blue Moon'.

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.

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Holly SpannerStaff Writer, BBC Science Focus

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