The full Moon will put on quite a show tomorrow night, as it passes through Earth's long shadow -- a total lunar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible from most of the Lower 48 states.
The best part of the eclipse begins around 7:45 Central Time, when the Moon begins to enter the dark inner portion of Earth's shadow. The shadow will completely engulf the Moon from around 9 until almost 10 o'clock, and the Moon will exit the shadow a little after 11. More about the eclipse tomorrow.
The full Moon occurs right in the middle of the eclipse. The full Moon of February has several names, all of which conjure forlorn wintertime images -- Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, and Wolf Moon.
It's hard to say when and where these names first appeared. Most full-Moon names describe something about the season in which the full Moon occurs. And while many of the names were passed down from Indian tribes, cultures around the world developed their own lists of Moon names. Many of these cultures devised similar names for the same full Moons.
It's not hard to understand the titles attached to February's full Moon. In centuries past, as winter dragged on, tribes and villages exhausted their food supplies. They eagerly awaited the arrival of spring, when they could plant new crops and hunt wild game.
The Moon's glare overpowers many stars, so the sky looks barren when the full Moon is up -- just like the winter landscape under a Wolf Moon.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2007
For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.