The first full moon of the year will light up the night sky on Thursday. The moon will be 100% full at 2:16 p.m. ET.
Barring clouds or bad weather, it will be visible around the world. The Virtual Telescope Project will stream the full moon live as it rises over the skyline of Rome.
Each moon has its own name associated with the full moon. In January, it's often called the "wolf moon," supposedly inspired by hungry wolves that howled outside of villages long ago, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.
Some tribes have described it as the "cold moon" or the "hard moon," but not the wolf moon, according to a list of full moon names attributed to 29 tribes at the Western Washington University Planetarium website.
The closest is the Sioux name for the January full moon, which is "wolves run together." This is similar to the Cheyenne name for the December full moon, "when the wolves run together."
The list was compiled by Phil Konstantin, a former NASA employee and member of the Cherokee Nation.
Although others have attributed the wolf moon moniker to the Algonquin tribe, they refer to the January full moon as "squochee kesos" or "sun has not strength to thaw."
Some other names for the January full moon include the bear hunting moon for the Haida tribe in Alaska, "moon of life at its height" for the Hopi tribe in Arizona and even "atalka," which means "stay inside" for the Kalapuya tribe in the Pacific Northwest.
Typical of a normal year, 2021 will also have 12 full moons. (Last year had 13 full moons, two of which were in October).
Here are all of the full moons occurring this year and their names, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac:
- Feb. 27 — Snow moon
- March 28 — Worm moon
- April 26 — Pink moon
- May 26 — Flower moon
- June 24 — Strawberry moon
- July 23 — Buck moon
- Aug. 22 — Sturgeon moon
- Sept. 20 — Harvest moon
- Oct. 20 — Hunter's moon
- Nov. 19 — Beaver moon
- Dec. 18 — Cold moon
Be sure to check for the other names of these moons as well, attributed to the different Native American tribes.
RELATED: A guide to full moon nicknames
January: Wolf Moon
The names for full moons, especially the most common ones adopted by the Old Farmer's Almanac, generally come from a combination of Native American and Colonial American terminology that have been passed down through generations.
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, January's full moon was named the Wolf Moon because wolves tend to howl more during this time period.
Other names: Moon After Yule, Old Moon, Ice Moon, and Snow Moon.
February: Snow Moon
February is generally the snowiest month of the year in North America, so its full moon was appropriately nicknamed the Snow Moon, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.
Other names: Hunger Moon, Storm Moon and Chaste Moon.
March: Worm Moon
March marks the end of winter, which is the first time earthworms start coming out of the ground. The Worm Moon in March is usually the last full moon before the spring equinox.
Other names: Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, Sugar Moon, and Chaste Moon.
According to TimeandDate.com, the Old English or Anglo-Saxon name is the Lenten Moon.
April: Pink Moon
April's Pink Moon doesn't actually appear pink in the sky. It's named instead after the pink flowers – Wild Ground Phlox or Moss Phlox– that start showing up in early spring, according to TimeandDate.com.
April's full moon is also called the Paschal Full Moon in the Christian calendar. The Paschal Full Moon is the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox and is used to determine the date for Easter.
Other names: Sprouting Grass Moon, Fish Moon, Hare Moon, and Egg Moon
May: Flower Moon
May's full moon is simply named the Flower Moon due to the flowers that bloom during the month.
Other names: Corn Planting Moon and Milk Moon.
June: Strawberry Moon
July: Buck Moon
Antlers generally start showing up on male deer during July, giving the month's full moon the name Buck Moon.
Other names: Thunder Moon, Wort Moon, and Hay Moon.
August: Sturgeon Moon
Many Native American tribes would fish for sturgeon during August, thus giving the month's full moon the name Sturgeon Moon.
The fish were once found in much of the U.S. and Canada, but the population has been significantly depleted due to overfishing.
Other names: Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, Fruit Moon, and Barley Moon.
September: Harvest Moon/Corn Moon
The September full moon is usually the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. However, that sometimes happens in early October instead.
The name Corn Moon is used nearly as often.
Other names: Barley Moon.
October: Hunter's Moon
As previously mentioned, October's full moon is sometimes referred to as the Harvest Moon if it's the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox. However, it's more commonly referred to as the Hunter's Moon. This is because October was when people in the Northern Hemisphere would begin preparing for winter by hunting, slaughtering and preserving meat.
Other names: Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon, Travel Moon and Dying Grass Moon.
November: Beaver Moon
Colonists and Native Americans used beaver furs to keep warm during winter. They'd set traps in November before swamps froze over to make sure they had enough fur for the cold months ahead. Beavers also became more active during November, making it that much easier to trap them, thus the name Beaver Moon.
Due to hunting, the beaver population in North America has dwindled to about 12 million, where it used to be about 60 million, according to TimeandDate.com.
Other names: Frost Moon, Trading Moon, Snow Moon and Mourning Moon.
December: Cold Moon
The naming of December's full moon is pretty straightforward — it's cold in December in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere. More specifically, it's usually the first month in many areas where it gets really cold and stays that way.
Other names: Long Nights Moon, Moon Before Yule, Oak Moon and Wolf Moon.
The Blue Moon has nothing to do with color. Most commonly, a Blue Moon occurs when there are two full moons in the same month. The first would get the traditional name, while the second moon is called the Blue Moon.
An alternative definition considers a Blue Moon the third full moon in an astronomical season with four full moons, according to TimeandDate.com. A typical season has three full moons.
Here is what else you can look forward to in 2021.
There is a bit of a wait until the next meteor shower, the popular Lyrids in April. The Lyrids will peak on April 22 and will be best seen in the Northern Hemisphere — but the moon will be 68% full, according to the American Meteor Society.
The Eta Aquariids follow soon after, peaking on May 5 when the moon is 38% full. This shower is best seen in the southern tropics, but will still produce a medium shower for those north of the equator.
The Delta Aquariids are also best seen from the southern tropics and will peak between July 28 and 29 when the moon is 74% full.
Interestingly, another meteor shower peaks on the same night — the Alpha Capricornids. Although this is a much weaker shower, it has been known to produce some bright fireballs during the peak. And it will be visible for those on either side of the equator.
The Perseid meteor shower, the most popular of the year, will peak between Aug. 11 and 12 in the Northern Hemisphere when the moon is only 13% full.
Here is the meteor shower schedule for the rest of the year, according to EarthSky's meteor shower outlook.
- Oct. 8: Draconids
- Oct. 21: Orionids
- Nov. 4 to 5: South Taurids
- Nov. 11 to 12: North Taurids
- Nov. 17: Leonids
- Dec. 13 to 14: Geminids
- Dec. 22: Ursids
Solar and lunar eclipses
This year, there will be two eclipses of the sun and two eclipses of the moon — and three of these will be visible for some in North America, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.
A total eclipse of the moon will occur on May 26, best visible to those in western North America and Hawaii from 4:46 a.m. ET to 9:51 a.m. ET.
An annular eclipse of the sun will happen on June 10, visible in northern and northeastern North America from 4:12 a.m. ET to 9:11 a.m. ET. The sun won't be fully blocked by the moon, so be sure to wear eclipse glasses to safely view this event.
Nov. 19 will see a partial eclipse of the moon, and skywatchers in North America and Hawaii will see it between 1 a.m. ET and 7:06 a.m. ET.
And the year ends with a total eclipse of the sun on Dec. 4. It won't be seen in North America, but those in the Falkland Islands, the southern tip of Africa, Antarctica and southeastern Australia will be able to spot it.
Skywatchers will have multiple opportunities to spot the planets in our sky during certain mornings and evenings throughout 2021, according to the Farmer's Almanac planetary guide.
It's possible to see most of these with the naked eye, with the exception of distant Neptune, but binoculars or a telescope will provide the best view.
Mercury will look like a bright star in the morning sky from Feb. 28 to March 20, June 27 to July 16, and Oct. 18 to Nov. 1. It will shine in the night sky from Jan. 15 to Jan. 31, May 3 to May 24, Aug. 31 to Sept. 21 and Nov. 29 to Dec. 31.
Venus, our closest neighbor in the solar system, will appear in the eastern sky on the mornings of Jan. 1 to 23 and in the western sky at dusk on the evenings of May 24 to Dec. 31. It's the second brightest object in our sky after the moon.
Mars makes its reddish appearance in the morning sky between Nov. 24 and Dec. 31 and will be visible in the evening sky between Jan. 1 and Aug. 22.
Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, is the third brightest object in our sky. It will be on display in the morning sky between Feb. 17 and Aug. 19. Look for it in the evenings of Jan. 1 to 9 and Aug. 20 to Dec. 31 — but it will be at its brightest from Aug. 8 to Sept. 2.
Saturn's rings are only visible through a telescope, but the planet itself can still be seen with the naked eye on the mornings of Feb. 10 to Aug. 1 and the evenings of Jan. 1 to 6 and Aug. 2 to Dec. 31. It will be at its brightest between Aug. 1 to 4.
Binoculars or a telescope will help you spot the greenish glow of Uranus on the mornings of May 16 to Nov. 3 and the evenings of Jan. 1 to April 12 and Nov. 4 to Dec. 31 — but at its brightest between Aug. 28 to Dec. 31.
And our most distant neighbor in the solar system, Neptune will be visible through a telescope on the mornings of March 27 to Sept. 13 and the evenings of Jan. 1 to Feb. 23 and Sept. 14 to Dec. 31. It will be at its brightest between July 19 and Nov. 8.