The snow moon will be illuminating the sky this weekend, beginning Friday night. The snow moon is the name for the full moon during the month of February for a very unsurprising reason. February is typically the snowiest month of the year in the U.S., as exemplified by last week's dangerous storms covered much of the country in snow.
The snow moon will first be visible Friday night as it rises in the east, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. It reaches peak illumination at 3:19 a.m. EST Saturday night. The moon reaches its highest point at around midnight.
This month's full moon name can be traced back to Native Americans. In the 1760s, Captain Jonathan Carver visited with the Naudowessie (Dakota) and learned they called it the Snow Moon "because more snow commonly falls during this month than any other in the winter," according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. There are some alternative names from other Native American tribes though. The Cree often called it the Bald Eagle Mon or Eagle Moon, while the Ojibwe and Tlingit called it the Bear Moon and Black Bear Moon, respectively, because bear cubs were frequently born this time of year. The Cherokee called it the Month of the Bony Moon or Hungry Moon because food was scarce in February.
February continues to be a snowy month in the U.S., a fact few residents need to be reminded of after the storms last week. Much of the snow has already melted though, but the U.S. is still 30.5% covered in snow, the National Weather Service estimates. That is a dramatic drop from Feb. 17, when 71.3% of the country was still covered by snow.
Full moons might impact your sleep cycle, a recent study found, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Last month, University of Washington researchers published a new study that found subjects slept between 46 and 58 minutes less on nights before a full moon compared to other nights during lunar cycles. The researchers acknowledged that their findings contradicted previous findings. However, lead author Leandro Casiraghi said their research found that sleep patterns were affected even when a full moon is obscured "on clouded nights."
The researchers from the University of Washington were joined by researchers from Yale University and the National University of Quilmes in Argentina. They tracked 98 Argentina residents with wrist monitors over a three-year period. Some lived with electricity, and others did not. They also included 464 Seattle college students in the study. They were surprised to learn that the sleep patterns of the two groups "throughout the moon cycle" resembled each other. They believe the sleep pattern changes were linked to how early the moon rises.