KALAMAZOO, Mich. — If you find yourself chasing rabbits, pulling out your hair, and howlin' at the moon, Friday night's full "Wolf Moon" could be to blame. That's a deep cut Hank Williams reference from his chart topping 1950s hit, for those playing along at home.
The full moon in January is traditionally referred to as the wolf moon because wolves were more likely to be howling this time of year, according to Almanac.com.
Michigan's gray wolf population was almost wiped out by the mid-1970s, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, but a small population still calls our state home. Gray wolves are now federally protected with an estimated population of about 700 in the Upper Peninsula.
West Michigan's cloud cover will likely obscure the moon as it rises at 4:58 p.m. Friday evening. Partial clearing late Friday and into the overnight provides the best opportunity to catch a glimpse, before the sun rises at 8:11 a.m. Saturday morning.
While Friday night's viewing isn't necessarily optimal, Saturday night may provide a better opportunity to howl at the moon. Skies should remain mostly clear as the still 99% illuminated moon rises just before 6 p.m. Saturday.
Due to the fact the moon's orbit around Earth isn't a perfect circle, there are times during the year its position is slightly farther or closer to our planet. Right now the moon is near its farthest point from Earth in orbit, called apogee, making this month's full moon technically a micromoon.
A micromoon appears slightly smaller compared to its supermoon counterpart, which by contrast happens when the moon is near its closest point to the Earth in orbit. This difference, however, isn't really noticeable to the naked eye.
January's full moon can also be referred to by the following names, according to NASA: Ice Moon, the Moon after Yule, the Old Moon and the Long Night Moon.
The second full moon of 2023 will happen on Feb. 5, and is most commonly referred to as the Snow Moon for pretty obvious reasons.
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