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February’s full Moon names and observing notes 2014

Snow Moon
Snow Moon

This month’s full moon is commonly known as the Snow Moon. Other names include the Hunger Moon, Opening Buds Moon, Storm Moon, The Trapper’s Moon, and Snow Blinding Moon. The Lakota Sioux called it the Moon of the Dark Red Calves. February’s full moon was known as the Big hoop and Stick Game Moon by the Cheyenne. To the Tewa it was the "Moon When the Coyotes are Frightened".

This year the full moon comes on Valentine’s Day, so be sure to enjoy it with your significant other.

Technically the full moon is only a moment in time. That moment occurs at 4:54pm MST on Feb 14 for Aurora, Colorado.

For most, the Moon will look full on the evenings Feb 13, Feb 14, and Feb 15. So which date is closest to true full looking moon? There is an easy way for the casual observer to tell. A full moon always rises opposite the setting Sun. In general, the Moon that rises within a half hour of sunset is closest to the full moon. If the Moon is well above the horizon or has not risen until well after (greater than a half hour) sunset, it is not a full moon even though it looks like one. Let’s see what the data shows this month for Aurora, CO.

Thursday Feb. 13

Sunset: 5:32pm MST

Moonrise: 4:44pm MST

Difference: 48 minutes (Failed, Moon and Sun are not opposite)

Friday Feb. 14

Sunset: 5:33pm MST

Moonrise: 5:44pm MST

Difference: 11 minutes (Pass, Moon and Sun are opposite)

Saturday Feb. 15

Sunset: 5:34pm MST

Moonrise: 6:38pm MST

Difference: 1 hour 4 minutes (Failed, Moon and Sun are not opposite)

This test works pretty much every time for any full looking Moon. This month the test is spot on because the full moon (4:54pm) occurs so close to local sunset (5:33pm), less than an hour difference. If the Moon looks full and opposite the Sun in the evening or morning it’s a full moon as this month’s data indicates. Take the time this month to see the difference.

A full moon is the only time the Moon is up all night and the only time a lunar eclipse can take place which will happen in April and October this year. Full moons also set in the west opposite the rising Sun. Living near the front range, as we do, provides some pretty nifty moonsets over the mountains, easily noticed by early morning west-bound commuters.

On February 15 look for the setting full moon over the mountain starting around 6:15am MST for a spectacular sight. Moonset occurs at 6:52am MST, but with the mountains in the way the Moon will disappear earlier. Sunrise occurs at 6:52am MST in the east. If you have the time catch the sunrise, they are usually pretty good here in Colorado.

For some more fun facts on this month’s full moon check out the video here on the Farmer’s Almanac site.

Wishing you clear skies

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