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The full Wolf Moon rises on Thursday, January 25, 2024. What is a Wolf Moon? Here are the real meaning and origins of January’s full Moon—and when you can see this Moon at its brightest! Learn what’s special about the January full Moon!
When to See January’s Full Moon
January’s full Wolf Moon reaches peak illumination on Thursday, January 25, 2024, at 12:54 P.M.EST. At a full Moon, the Moon is located on the opposite side of the Earth to the Sun, so the face of the Moon facing towards the Earth will be entirely illuminated by the Sun’s rays. Look for the Moon to rise from the northeastern horizon around sunset that evening.
Consult our Moonrise Calculator to see what time you can expect to catch a glimpse of the first full Moon of 2024!
Look up at the full Moon on the 25th (or a day earlier or later)! What do you think?
The sunset embers smolder low, The Moon climbs o’er the hill, The peaks have caught the alpenglow, The robin’s song is still. –John L. Stoddard (1850–1931)
Why Is It Called the Full Wolf Moon?
The full Moon names used by The Old Farmer’s Almanac come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources. Traditionally, each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, not just to the full Moon itself.
The Wolf Moon
It’s thought that January’s full Moon came to be known as the Wolf Moon because wolves were more likely to be heard howling at this time. It was traditionally believed that wolves howled due to hunger during winter, but we know today that wolves howl for different reasons. Howling and other wolf vocalizations are used to define territory, locate pack members, reinforce social bonds, and coordinate hunting.
Alternative January Moon Names
Another fitting name for this full Moon is the Center Moon. Used by the Assiniboine people of the Northern Great Plains, it refers to the idea that this Moon roughly marks the middle of the cold season.
Other traditional names for the January Moon emphasize the harsh coldness of the season: Cold Moon (Cree), Frost Exploding Moon (Cree), Freeze Up Moon (Algonquin), and Severe Moon (Dakota). Hard Moon (Dakota) highlights the phenomenon of the fallen snow developing a hard crust.
Canada Goose Moon (Tlingit), Great Moon (Cree), Greetings Moon (Western Abenaki), and Spirit Moon (Ojibwe) have also been recorded as Moon names for this month.