Full Snow Moon will light up skies around the world tonight – here’s the best time to see


While there’s no snow forecast for tonight, there will still be a wintery treat in the skies. 

This evening, a Full Snow Moon will light up the skies around the world.

As the last full moon of winter, this will be a great opportunity to get in some early evening stargazing before the nights get shorter once again. 

Even better, because the moon will be bright and full, you won’t need any special equipment or even to leave the city to see it.

So, if you want to see this stunning astronomical phenomenon, here’s best the way to catch it. 

The Snow Moon is the last full moon of winter, seen here rising above the Thames near Gravesend last year

The Snow Moon is the last full moon of winter, seen here rising above the Thames near Gravesend last year

When are the next full moons?

  • March 25 – Worm Moon
  • April 23 – Pink Moon 
  • May 23 – Flower Moon
  • June 21 – Strawberry Moon 
  • July 21 – Buck Moon 
  • August 19 – Sturgeon Moon 
  • September 17 – Harvest Moon
  • October 17 – Hunter’s Moon 
  • November 15 – Beaver Moon 
  • December 15 – Cold Moon  

A full moon occurs once every 28 days when the moon, Earth and sun are in syzygy, meaning they are all aligned.

The moon is only technically full when it is 100 per cent illuminated but because it is in constant motion around the Earth this only lasts for an instant.

More generally speaking, we refer to the full moon as any time that our lunar satellite appears to be fully illuminated to an observer on Earth.  

Dr Affelia Wibisono, astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, told MailOnline: ‘In 2024, the moment when the Moon is at its fullest will occur at 12:30pm on the 24th. 

‘The Moon won’t be visible from the UK at this time, but it will appear full on the nights before and after.’

Dr Wibisono adds: ‘Moonrise is at 16:15 on the 23rd and it will set at 07:21 the following morning. On the 24th, the Moon rises at 17:27 and moonset is at 07:32 on the 25th.’

Since the moon is so bright, it should be extremely easy to see wherever you are.

‘There is no particular location you need to be to observe this event – as this is a bright full moon, as long as the night is clear of clouds, it will be easy to spot whether you are in a light-polluted city, or a dark area of countryside,’ adds Dr Wibisono. 

We see the moon as fully illuminated when it, the Earth, and the sun are all in syzygy, meaning they are aligned. While this technically only happens for a moment, the moon still appears full a day on either side of this point

We see the moon as fully illuminated when it, the Earth, and the sun are all in syzygy, meaning they are aligned. While this technically only happens for a moment, the moon still appears full a day on either side of this point

If you want to get the best views of this delightful lunar event it is best to try and see the moon shortly before moonrise or moonset. 

When the moon is low on the horizon it appears to be bigger due to something called the ‘Moon Illusion’.

Scientists aren’t quite sure what causes this phenomenon but it causes the moon to appear larger when just above the horizon.

Your view won’t really be any better but your brain will tell you that it is.  

The names of the full moons are often believed to come from traditional Native American naming schemes.

It is suggested that the full moons throughout the year were given names as a way of keeping time and tracking the progression of farming and hunting schedules.

Pictured here in Italy in the L'Aquila National Park, the Snow Moon gets its name for the abundance of snow in the northern hemisphere that usually accompanies its arrival

Pictured here in Italy in the L’Aquila National Park, the Snow Moon gets its name for the abundance of snow in the northern hemisphere that usually accompanies its arrival

For example, August’s Sturgeon Moon is believed to get its name from the abundance of sturgeon available for fishing during the month. 

These practices were then popularised when the names for the full moons were published in the Farmer’s Almanac.

The Snow Moon, as its name might suggest, is particularly associated with winter and colder weather. 

Dr Wibisono says: ‘The Snow Moon is a name given to the Full Moon that occurs in February.

‘This Full Moon is so called because of the abundant amount of snow on the ground in the northern hemisphere. It is also known as the Hunger Moon, Storm Moon and Bear Moon.’

North Wales and England will see some heavy rain in the evening but the rest of the country should stay fairly dry

Cloud cover may pose an issue for stargazing but with a bright full moon you may still catch a glimpse through the clouds

With the weather forecast to be dry and fairly cloudy, the Snow Moon won’t quite be living up to its name. Temperatures should hold between 6 and 8 °C so be sure to dress appropriately

Luckily for any budding astronomers planning on seeing the moon tonight, the UK has avoided any of the moon’s traditional snowfall.

By moonrise, temperatures shouldn’t be too cold and will range between 6°C and 8°C.

North Wales and the North of England are likely to be hit by some fairly heavy rain during this time but much of the south will be staying dry.

However, cloud cover may pose a problem as much of the UK will be covered throughout the evening.

But with a few breaks in the cover through the night and a bright moon, you still may get a great view of this spectacular sight.

If you are planning on viewing the snow moon be sure to dress appropriately and check the weather for your area.

Be sure to give your eyes plenty of time to adjust to the darkness by avoiding artificial lights, including your phone. 

No special equipment is needed, but a pair of binoculars can be useful to make out some of the details on the lunar surface.  

The phases of the moon

Like Earth, the Moon has a day side and a night side, which change as the Moon rotates. 

The Sun always illuminates half of the Moon while the other half remains dark, but how much we are able to see of that illuminated half changes as the Moon travels through its orbit.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the phases of the moon are:

1. New Moon

This is the invisible phase of the Moon, with the illuminated side of the Moon facing the Sun and the night side facing Earth.

2. Waxing crescent

This silver sliver of a Moon occurs when the illuminated half of the Moon faces mostly away from Earth, with only a tiny portion visible to us from our planet.

3. First Quarter 

The Moon is now a quarter of the way through its monthly journey and you see half of its illuminated side. 

4. Waxing Gibbous

Now most of the Moon’s dayside has come into view, and the Moon appears brighter in the sky. 

5. Full Moon

This is as close as we come to seeing the Sun’s illumination of the entire day side of the Moon.

6. Waning Gibbous

As the Moon begins its journey back toward the Sun, the opposite side of the Moon now reflects the Moon’s light. 

7. Last Quarter

The Moon looks like it’s half illuminated from the perspective of Earth, but really you’re seeing half of the half of the Moon that’s illuminated by the Sun ― or a quarter. 

8. Waning Crescent

The Moon is nearly back to the point in its orbit where its dayside directly faces the Sun, and all that we see from our perspective is a thin curve. 



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