Full Moon © Getty Images

When is the next full moon? Your lunar astronomy guide

All the information you need to see the Earth’s nearest neighbour at its best this February.

Wondering when the next full Moon is? Short answer: soon. Very soon. In fact, the second full Moon of 2021, what’s called the ‘Snow Moon’, is set to light up night skies in the UK (and the rest of the world) at the end of February.

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You can find all details below – plus information about the other major lunar events happening this year. As a bonus, we’ve even thrown in how to take a picture of the Moon that doesn’t look like an underwhelming tiny white speck. Because Instagram matters, right?

If you’re looking for more stargazing tips, check out our complete astronomy for beginners UK guide.

When is the next full Moon in the UK?

The next full Moon can be seen on 27 February 2021. The so-called ‘Snow Moon’ will appear for around three nights.

A full Moon happens roughly every 29.5 days, the length of one lunar cycle. You can see details of each full Moon of 2021 (including every Moon’s dedicated name) below.

28 January: Wolf Moon 2021

27 February: Snow Moon

28 March: Worm Moon

27 April: Pink Moon (supermoon)

26 May: Flower Moon/Blood Moon (supermoon)

24 June: Strawberry Moon

24 July: Buck Moon

22 August: Sturgeon Moon

21 September: Harvest Moon

20 October: Hunter’s Moon

19 November: Beaver Moon (micro full Moon)

19 December: Cold Moon

Why does the Moon change shape?

We only see the Moon because it reflects light from the Sun. As it orbits the Earth, the amount of light it can reflect back at us changes. When the Moon goes between the Sun and the Earth, no light can reflect back at us so there is a new moon.

When the Earth is between the Sun and the Moon, a full Moon occurs as the Moon’s face is fully illuminated by the Sun. During the times in between, only parts of the Moon can reflect light back to Earth.

Moon phases © Getty Images
© Getty Images

If the Moon orbited Earth in the same plane as Earth orbits the Sun, then the Moon would block out light from the Sun every time there was a new Moon.

But this doesn’t happen because the Moon orbits at an angle of around 5 degrees compared to Earth’s orbit of the Sun. Sometimes the Moon passes through Earth’s plane of orbit and the three bodies – Earth, Moon and Sun line up.

This is called a syzygy. When a syzygy happens during a new Moon we have a solar eclipse, and a syzygy during a full Moon creates a lunar eclipse. By Abigail Beall 

How can I see a Supermoon?

The Moon doesn’t orbit Earth in a circle – it has an elliptical orbit. This means the distance between the Earth and the Moon varies. The closest point in the orbit is called perigee and the furthest away point is apogee.

When a full Moon happens at the same time the Moon is closest to the Earth – less than 360,000km (223,694 miles) away – this is a supermoon. The next supermoon will be on 28 March 2021. AB 

How can I photograph the moon at night?

To capture the Moon with your phone, you might need to play around with your camera settings. Don’t use a flash, turn down the ISO and set your focus to 100.

If you are unsure how to make these changes, download a night photography app (such as NightCap – available on the App Store, £2.99) which will allow you greater control over the camera settings than your usual camera app.

Read more about the Moon:

If you’re using a digital camera, start with an aperture of f/11 to f/16 and a shutter speed of between 1/60th and 1/125th of a second. A tripod will help keep your camera still and reduce any shaking from the low light conditions when you need to keep the shutter open a little longer.

To get the best pictures of the Moon you need to work out your shot, making sure you can frame the Moon depending on the scenery around you. To plan where you can see the Moon, or anything in the night sky, there is plenty of software available (like the Moon Locator app – available on Android devices, free). AB

To find more software worthy of your home screen, check out our guide to the best astronomy apps.

Does the moon rotate?

Yes, the Moon is rotating. But it is tidally locked, which means it rotates in sync with its orbit of the Earth, so for every orbit of the Earth it completes one rotation.

This means as it travels around our planet, the same side faces us the whole time. This is why we have the term ‘dark side of the Moon’, for the side we never see. In reality, that side of the Moon gets just as much sunlight as the side we see, so the correct term is the ‘far side of the Moon’. AB

What is a Blood moon and how can I see it?

Blood Moon © Getty Images
A Blood Moon © Getty Images

During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon turns a red colour because Earth’s atmosphere scatters blue light away and only the red gets through. This is called a Blood Moon. The next Blood Moon is happening on 26 May 2021. AB

Read more about the Moon:

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