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First Full Moon of 2024, the "Wolf Moon," Illuminates January Skies This Week

The Wolf Moon, also known as January's full moon, will reach its peak brightness at 12:54 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 25, illuminating the constellation Cancer. This celestial event will also showcase a brilliant full moon both on Wednesday, January 24 and Friday, January 26.

The moniker "Wolf Moon" is believed to have European origins, tied to the howling of wolves during the early part of the year. Other names for this month's full moon include the Stay Home Moon, Quiet Moon, Severe Moon, and Center Moon. The Anishinaabeg or Ojibwe Indigenous people of the Great Lakes region refer to it as Minado Giizis or the Spirit Moon, according to the Center for Native American Studies.

For North American observers, the optimal time to witness the full moon will be on Thursday, as it rises in the east, significantly close to the sunset. Further, moonrise and moonset times for specific locations can be corresponded to find a spot with a clear view of the eastern horizon.

An interesting aspect of this year's Wolf Moon is its prolonged duration. The typical lunar cycle, from new moon to new moon, spans about 29.5 days, with an average of 7.4 days between its four phases. However, according to sources,  there will be precisely 8.225 days between the full Wolf Moon on January 25 and the third-quarter moon on February 2, making it the lengthiest moon phase in 2024.

This extended duration is attributed to the moon's elliptical orbit around Earth, resulting in varying distances from our planet. The combination of the moon's oscillations and its elliptical path leads to unique durations for each orbit around Earth.

Following the Wolf Moon, the next full moon, known as the Snow Moon, will grace the night sky on February 24.

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