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Full Moon in January 2024 – Wolf Moon: A Comprehensive Guide

by | Jan 25, 2024

Date and Time of the first full moon of 2024

Full Moon Date: January 25, 2024
Peak Illumination: 12:54 p.m. ET
Name: Wolf Moon

Check: When is the next full moon of 2024

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On January 25, 2024, stargazers and night sky enthusiasts will look up to witness the first full moon of the year, popularly known as the Wolf Moon. This event is not just a celestial marvel but also a cultural touchstone, rooted in the traditions and lore of various cultures. The Wolf Moon, named for the time of year when wolves were often heard howling in hunger outside villages, will grace the night sky, nestling amidst the stars of the Cancer constellation.

The spectacle of the full Wolf Moon offers a moment of reflection and the opportunity for photographers to capture its splendor. This full moon reaches its peak illumination in the afternoon hours but will appear fully bright to observers throughout the evening. Traditionally, the full moon cycle has held significance for agricultural practices and timekeeping, long before the advent of modern calendars.

As January’s full moon ascends, its significance extends beyond its luminous presence in the sky. It marks the beginning of a new year’s lunar cycle, setting the stage for the subsequent full moons. The Wolf Moon of January 2024 is a celestial beacon connecting the past and present, inviting everyone to view the sky with wonder and appreciation.

January 2024 Wolf Moon Details

The Full Moon that graces the night sky in January 2024 is often called the Wolf Moon. It stands as a celestial beacon amid the winter’s peak, casting a luminous glow over the colder landscape. The timing of its arrival is a spectacle for skygazers and an event wrapped in cultural and historical significance.

when is the next full moon

Date and Time:

Full Moon Date: January 25, 2024
Peak Illumination: 12:54 p.m. ET

Visibility Details: Despite the peak illumination occurring during the day, the Wolf Moon will seem full to the casual observer on the night of January 25 into the early hours of January 26.
For specific viewing times, individuals can refer to Timeanddate.com for precise moonrise and moonset times in their location. This allows anyone interested in observing the phenomenon to plan accordingly.

Astronomical Context: Astronomers expect the Full Moon to rise in the east as dusk begins and to set in the west around dawn. The visibility and timing of the moonrise and moonset can vary slightly depending on the observer’s geographic location.

Cultural Significance: The Wolf Moon name is traditionally linked to Native American tribes and early Colonial Europeans as wolves were more often heard howling at this time. It marked a time of deep winter and survival.

With its significance across various cultures and its connection to the natural world, one can view the Wolf Moon as an astronomical occurrence and a link to the past, present, and future seasonal cycles.

Origins of the Wolf Moon Name

The term Wolf Moon has intriguing cultural origins. It is the traditional name given to January’s full moon. Historians say that the name is derived from the howling of wolves that was often heard by Native American tribes and early Colonial American settlers during this time of year. While there’s a belief that wolves would howl due to hunger in the cold winter, scientific studies suggest that wolves howl for various reasons, such as territorial communication and to reinforce social bonds, rather than solely because of hunger.

Among the other names attributed to this lunar event are:

  • Old Moon: Emphasizing the midst of winter when the moon is often obscured by heavy frost and the aged appearance of the weather-beaten landscape.
  • Ice Moon: Highlighting the freezing conditions typically accompanying January’s full moon cycle.


Name Alternatives Cultural Associations
Wolf Moon Wolves, Native American
Old Moon Winter season, Endurance
Ice Moon Winter cold, Ice formations


Native American groups assigned distinct names to full moons as a method of tracking time, and these names often reflected the natural world’s cues and the landscape’s seasonal changes. These designations provided a connection to nature and helped tribes to prepare for and endure the harsh conditions often brought by the winter period.

The Wolf Moon occurs in January when the winter is typically at its peak in the Northern Hemisphere, bringing to mind the desolate, often stark beauty of the winter landscape modulated by the full moon’s illumination.

Astronomical Aspects of the January Full Moon

The January Full Moon, often known as the Wolf Moon, is a celestial event marked by its distinct phases and the precise mechanics of the Moon’s orbit around Earth. This period is characterized by noteworthy moments of peak illumination that present optimal viewing opportunities.

Full Moon January 2024

Lunar Orbit and Phases

The Moon’s orbit around Earth is elliptical, which causes variations in its distance from Earth and, as a result, slight changes in visibility and size when viewed from Earth. The most significant phases within this orbit are the Full Moon, the Last Quarter, the New Moon, and the First Quarter. The Full Moon phase occurs when the Earth is positioned directly between the Moon and the Sun, allowing the side of the Moon that faces Earth to be fully illuminated. This phase is part of a predictable cycle called the Full Moon Calendar, which NASA and other astronomical bodies maintain and monitor.

Related: The Spiritual Meaning of Moon Phases

Peak Illumination and Viewing Times

Peak Illumination refers to the moment when the Moon’s visibility is at its brightest from Earth. The January 2024 Wolf Moon reached peak illumination on January 25 at 12:54 p.m. Eastern Time (17:54 UTC), as noted by the U.S. Naval Observatory. The best viewing times in urban areas like New York City were after the moonrise, which occurred at 4:56 p.m. local time. Moonrise and moonset times vary by location due to Earth’s rotation and the angle of observation. The Moon appeared bright and full on the preceding and following nights of the peak illumination, offering multiple opportunities for enthusiasts to observe. The proximity of the Moon to Earth at perigee—the closest point in its orbit—can influence its observed size and brightness.

Cultural Significance

The Full Moon in January, often called the Wolf Moon, carries varied cultural connotations that stem from ancient traditions and celestial observations. The designation “Wolf Moon” is traditionally linked to the Native American practice of ascribing thematic names to each month’s full moon, reflecting the natural rhythms and environment.

Indigenous Cultures

Native American groups named the January moon based on the environmental conditions and animal behavior observed during this time. The Ojibwe called it the “Frost Exploding Trees Moon“, due to the cracking sounds of tree sap freezing and expanding. In contrast, it was known as the “Spirit Moon” among the Cree, indicative of the heightened spiritual activity believed to take place during the frigid winter month. The Wolf Moon term is thought to relate to wolves’ increased vocal activity around this time, though this connection is more poetic than scientific. The Old Farmer’s Almanac often serves as a modern reference for these traditional names, maintaining their visibility in contemporary culture.

Popular Lore

In popular folklore, the Full Moon of January retains its enigmatic presence under the moniker “Wolf Moon”. The name taps into the enduring imagery of wolves howling in the mid-winter, a notion that resonates widely from Native American origins to colonial and European interpretations. Connections to the winter celebration of Yule have been drawn, with some associating the moon with deep reflection and the profound stillness of the season. The Wolf Moon is not just a celestial event but a cultural touchstone that continues to inspire tales and representations across various cultures.

Observing the Wolf Moon

January’s Full Moon provides a spectacular opportunity for skywatchers and photographers alike. Named the Wolf Moon, this lunar event allows for clear viewing and excellent photographing conditions, as long as one adheres to some practical guidelines.

Best Practices for Viewing

To properly appreciate the Wolf Moon, enthusiasts should find a dark area away from city lights. Although binoculars or a telescope can enhance the experience, they are optional to enjoy the view. The Moon will be most visible as it rises above the Eastern Horizon at sunset and continues to climb until reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight. It’s preferable to begin observing as the moon rises, as this is the time when it often appears largest and most color-rich due to atmospheric effects.

  • Check Visibility: Ensure the sky is clear in your particular region.
  • Timing: Start watching around sunset; the Moon will become more distinct as the sky darkens.
  • Equipment: While not essential, a pair of binoculars or a telescope can bring the craters and mountains of the Moon into sharp relief.
  • Comfort: Dress warmly and bring a chair or a blanket for an extended viewing session.

Photographing the Moon

For those interested in astrophotography, the Full Wolf Moon offers an exciting subject. A standard digital camera on a tripod can be used to capture the event, but for more detailed images, a camera with a telephoto lens or one attached to a telescope would be ideal. Adjust the camera settings to a low ISO to prevent graininess and a fast shutter speed to decrease blur.

  • Camera Setup: Mount the camera on a tripod to avoid shaking. Use manual focus to achieve the sharpest image.
  • Settings: A lower ISO setting and fast shutter speed are vital for clarity.
  • Experiment: Test different exposure levels; the Moon can be quite bright, and it may take several attempts to capture its features.

By following these tips, both the experienced astronomer and the casual observer can look forward to a memorable Wolf Moon experience.

Note: If you get a good shot of January’s full moon and would like to share it with Zenorzen.com’s readers, send your photo(s), and your name and location to info@zenorzen.com

Influence of the Wolf Moon on Earth

During January, the Wolf Moon rises as the year’s first full moon, exerting its usual gravitational pull on the planet. This full moon, traditionally known as the Wolf Moon, is named so due to the historical belief that wolves howled more frequently during this time. In 2024, the Wolf Moon appears to influence Earth in subtle ways.

when is the next full moon


The Earth’s oceans experience the most obvious influence, with stronger tides due to the Moon’s gravitational pull. During the full moon, high tides are higher and lower tides, known as spring tides.

  • High Tide: Particularly pronounced
  • Low Tide: More extreme than during other lunar phases


Animal behavior, particularly nocturnal wildlife, might shift during the full moon. Although studies offer mixed results, some suggest animals may exhibit changes in reproductive or feeding habits.

  • Increased Visibility: Predators and prey alter activities
  • Possible Disruption: Normal patterns may be impacted

In folklore, the full moon’s arrival in the heart of winter coined additional terms reflecting the season’s characteristics. “Cold Moon” alludes to January’s chilly weather, while “Quiet Moon” and “Stay Home Moon” suggest a time of indoor retreat and lessened activity for both humans and animals alike.

  • Cold Moon: Reflects the low temperatures
  • Quiet Moon: Implies stillness in nature
  • Stay Home Moon: Indicates a period where animals, and historically people, stay close to shelter

Understanding these influences helps one appreciate the subtleties of lunar cycles and their place in both science and folklore.

Scientific Exploration of the Moon

The study of the lunar phases has captivated scientists for centuries. NASA’s ongoing lunar surface exploration provides valuable data with each varying phase. A full moon, such as January’s Wolf Moon, is an ideal time to observe and measure the brightness and reflectance of the moon’s surface. During this time, the angle of sunlight hitting the moon’s surface is direct, offering a unique view for various scientific measurements.

The Wolf Moon of January 2024 will rise in the constellation Cancer, an event highlighted by space enthusiasts and described in detail by Space.com. These celestial events are not just for the layperson; they hold significant importance for the scientific community. Observations during this full moon contribute to our understanding of the moon’s geology and composition.

NASA often aligns lunar explorations with such events to maximize data collection. The full moon date also features prominently in their newsletter communications, as it provides a reliable schedule for amateur astronomers and educators to plan observations.

Scientific American may not have a specific article on January’s full moon at present, but the publication frequently covers lunar research and the scientific method applied during these studies.

Lunar Event Importance in Science
Full Moon Surface analysis, reflectivity measurements
Wolf Moon Specific study of characteristics during the phase in constellation Cancer


The information gleaned from these observations not only enriches our knowledge of the moon’s physical properties but also deepens our understanding of its influence on Earth’s systems, such as tides and nocturnal wildlife behavior. These insights are integral to piecing together our moon’s complex and fascinating story.

Additional Full Moons and Lunar Events

Following January’s Full Wolf Moon, skywatchers can anticipate a range of notable lunar events throughout 2024. Each full moon has a traditional name often linked to the natural world and the changing seasons.

  • February: The Snow Moon is often observed during the month’s typically heavy snowfall.
  • March: Known as the Worm Moon, this full moon signifies the softening of the ground as earthworms emerge.
  • April: A Pink Moon graces the sky, its name deriving from the pink flowers that bloom in spring.

In addition to the monthly full moons, 2024 also presents special lunar events:

  • Supermoons are occasions when the moon is full and at its closest approach to Earth, making it appear larger and brighter. Based on astronomical calculations, dates to observe Supermoons in 2024 will be announced.
  • Blue Moon: This is the term used when two full moons occur in a single calendar month. The phenomenon of a Blue Moon is relatively rare and is a treat for lunar enthusiasts.
  • Lunar Eclipses: Events where the Earth comes between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow over the moon. Information on the occurrence of lunar eclipses can be found, including dates and viewing locations.
  • July: The Buck Moon occurs when new antlers of buck deer push out from their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur.
  • December: The Moon After Yule refers to the first full moon following the winter solstice.

Each celestial event provides observers a unique experience and connects us to the historical significance of the moon’s phases.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section addresses commonly asked questions about the Wolf Moon, highlighting its significance and observational details.

1. What is the spiritual significance of the Wolf Moon?

The spiritual significance of the Wolf Moon is often associated with reflection and the deep introspection that the new year brings. Different cultures and individuals may have varying interpretations of its meaning.

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2. How does the Wolf Moon in January affect my astrological sign?

Astrological beliefs suggest that the Wolf Moon can bring about changes and emotional energy. Its impact on an astrological sign may vary, influencing personal growth and transformation.

3. What rituals are associated with the January Wolf Moon?

Rituals during the Wolf Moon often include setting intentions for the year, releasing the old, and embracing the energy of renewal. These practices are rooted in tradition and vary among different cultures and spiritual groups.

4. What is the meaning behind the Wolf Moon name?

The term “Wolf Moon” is traditionally linked to the howling of wolves that was often heard by indigenous tribes and early colonial settlers during this time of year. It denotes the first full moon of January.

5. What astronomical events occur during a Wolf Moon?

Astronomical events during the Wolf Moon include its rise as the first full moon of the calendar year. Occasionally, lunar eclipses or comet sightings might coincide with a Wolf Moon, adding to its excitement.

6. When exactly can we observe the full moon in January 2024?

The January 2024 Wolf Moon will reach its peak illumination during the day, with the best visibility expected the following evening depending on one’s location.


Writer Emma

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