Stories from the Barn
A hive of activity in the Hampshire downlands
The Wolf Moon
What is the Wolf Moon?
The first full moon of 2021 will be visible tonight and it is known as the ‘Wolf Moon’. The moon, the first of the twelve full moons this year, is a point in time when the moon is reflecting the maximum amount of sunlight onto Earth. This happens when the Earth comes exactly between the Moon and the Sun. When there is an alignment between these three celestial objects, it is called a ‘syzygy’. This happens at a very precise time and in the UK it will be at 7.16 on 28th January. The full moon will be in the constellation of Cancer, the crab. It will probably be best to see it early on before it gets too white bright. Earlier in the evening it will have an orange or reddish tint to it. As the moon moves across the sky and assuming there are no clouds, beautiful moon shadows are cast across the land.
Why is it called the Wolf Moon?
There are lots of theories about the naming of the moon. The Wolf Moon moniker, used in both Europe and North America could have been given because wolves howl a lot at this time of the year. Wolves are social animals and it could be they use the full moon to coordinate hunting or reaffirm territories. The suggestion that wolves howl at this time of year because they are hungry is probably false, wolves howl for many reasons. The fact that the name is associated with traditions all over the northern hemisphere suggests the wolves activity is more heightened at the time of the Winter full moon. Known by other names such as ‘ice moon’ and ‘goose moon’, none is quite so evocative as Wolf Moon. There are many stories about the Moon throughout the Native American tribes. See this video from The Old Farmers Almanac.