Wolf Moon (January Full Moon)

January 28th, 2021 on the Gregorian calendar marks the date when the moon in space will be directly opposite the Sun with reference to mother Earth, hence the Full Moon visible from our earthly abodes. The first full moon of the year relative to the most widely used international calendars.

Full moons have captured human imagination and bedazzled lovers, poets, naturists – even animals like wolves turning to beastly entities or bats transforming to Dracula – ever since dawn of mankind. Wolves and Bats, however, have their reasons to be allured by the moon but certainly not in the context they’ve been depicted of course!

Many cultures have distinct names or relative significance associated with moon phase. Wolf name is a common reference for January full moon in the northern hemisphere. Various cultures, such as American Indian (Cherokee, Choctaw) and English Medieval, experienced increase of howling activity by the four-legged canines during this stretch of the season. Although, scientifically there is no verified link or connection between moon phases and howls by wolves whatsoever. According to some canine experts, their research reveals “no connection between the phases of the moon and wolf howling, wolves pipe up more often during the night because they’re nocturnal. But why do they point their faces toward the moon and stars when they howl? It’s all about acoustics, since projecting their calls upward allows the sound to carry farther.”

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “it’s thought that January’s full Moon came to be known as the Wolf Moon because wolves were more often heard howling at this time. It was traditionally believed that wolves howled due to hunger during winter, but we know today that wolves howl for other reasons. Howling and other wolf vocalizations are generally used to define territory, locate pack members, reinforce social bonds, and coordinate hunting.”

I have been trying to keep my young lads active during the imposed lockdown(s) during the current ongoing pandemic. We usually go to nature trails for hikes during the day to expend our energy and catch fresh, crisp oxygen but ventured out late in the evening today to catch a glimpse of moon in its full glory on a frigid evening dusking to night. Some local nature trails have warning signs of coyote sightings and even heard first hand account of locals hearing them when the darkness falls. So the hope tonight was to catch a glimpse of a coyote, at the very least, in the act of howling at the moon, since it’s understood that coyotes, wolves and domestic dogs are closely-related species. No of course! I’m yet to come across a coyote in the wild. Wouldn’t want to face one off with kids around but as a thrill seeker, a sighting from a safe distance would be a welcome sight.

Anyways, this year’s first full moon is transitioning through Constellation Cancer, one of the eighty-eight (88) modern constellations developed for charting celestial bodies in the near and deep universe.

Cancer Constellation (Courtesy: International Astronomical Union)

Luckily, managed to capture some crisp clear images of the Wolf Moon (minus the wolf of course!) thanks to clear night skies past couple of days. Hopefully get to capture a few more stunning shots of our natural satellite before it wanes off and emerges back to its full majestic glory next month as Snow Moon in February. More shots and transitioning facts then!

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