All full moons have nicknames and often several of them, usually given by Native American tribes. In the U.S., February’s full moon is dubbed the snow moon because February historically is the snowiest month in the Northern Hemisphere. Extrapolating from that, the Cherokee called this moon both the bony moon and hungry moon, implying food was scarce during this month of cold, snowy weather.
Nicknames for North American moons are often linked to animals and their activities, too (for instance, the beaver moon rises in November). Bear moon and black bear moon, which come from the Ojibwe and Tlingit, respectively, were used to describe February’s full moon since bear cubs are born at this time.
A full moon may also be a supermoon or a micromoon. Supermoons, as their name implies, appear larger than typical full moons because they are closer than normal to Earth’s orbit. Micromoons are the opposite. They look smaller than normal because they are farther from Earth. The Feb. 5 full moon will be the second of two micromoons in 2023, the first having occurred in January.
Interestingly, most of us can’t tell the difference in size between a normal full moon, supermoon or micromoon, even though a micromoon can appear up to 14 percent smaller than a supermoon. And while micromoons often look duller than other full moons, due to their further distance from Earth, February’s snow moon will be easy to see because the leaves normally adorning deciduous trees will be gone. And if you live in an area with snow on the ground, the full moon’s display will be even more impressive, as its light will reflect off the snow.
Should you miss the snow moon, March’s full moon – the worm moon – will reach its peak illumination at 7:42 a.m. EST (12 noon GMT) Tuesday, March 7, 2023.