It's a great night to get out and howl at the moon.
The moon will be visible for the whole of tonight, appearing in the east just as the sun sets in the west. That's because during full moons, the sun and the moon are directly opposite one another, separated by 180 degrees across the ecliptic, the imaginary path the sun makes as it travels across the sky. In the middle of this separation lies Earth.
While clear skies will hopefully allow you to bask in the light of the full moon, weather is known to be uncooperative for skywatchers. Luckily, however, if you have a cloudy night in your area, you can watch the Full Wolf Moon online thanks to a free livestream from astronomer Gianluca Masi of The Virtual Telescope Project. The webcast will start at 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT) on Thursday (Jan. 25). Just note that the livestream is weather-dependent itself and could be called off if conditions aren't ideal from where it's filmed.
Following tonight's Full Wolf Moon, the illuminated portion of the moon's face will begin to get smaller, or wane, as it approaches the next new moon phase which occurs on Feb. 9, 2024.
February's new moon will mark the beginning of a new lunar year, an event celebrated by cultures worldwide. In China, this full moon is referred to as the "preserved moon" which refers to preserving foods for the spring festival celebrated at lunar new year.
Among the Cree peoples of North America, it's known as the "Frost Exploding Moon." Meanwhile, the Ojibwe people of southern Canada and the northern Midwestern United States called it Mnido Giizis, or the "Spirit Moon." For that matter, January's full moon is called the Wolf Moon in some cultures because, according to Farmer's Almanac, Europeans and Colonial Americans would hear wolves howling outside of villages during this time of year.
You can also check out our guide on how to photograph the moon, as well as peruse our round-ups of the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography to help prepare for the next lunar event.
Editor's Note: If you get a great shot of January's full moon and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
Brett is curious about emerging aerospace technologies, alternative launch concepts, military space developments and uncrewed aircraft systems. Brett's work has appeared on Scientific American, The War Zone, Popular Science, the History Channel, Science Discovery and more. Brett has English degrees from Clemson University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In his free time, Brett enjoys skywatching throughout the dark skies of the Appalachian mountains.