A Full Beaver Moon Is Coming in November

SusanHepton/iStock via Getty Images
SusanHepton/iStock via Getty Images

The title given to the full moon of any given month can tell you a lot about the priorities of early Americans. In August, the full sturgeon moon once meant it was time to harvest the fish from the Great Lakes, while the worm moon of March referenced the earthworms that signaled the approach of spring. The beaver moon, which is set to appear on November 12 in 2019, is no different.

What is a beaver moon?

Beaver moon is the name of the first (and typically the only) full moon of the November lunar cycle. It's meaning is said to have originated with the Algonquin people, and was eventually adapted by European colonists in North America. November used to be the time for putting down beaver traps in anticipation of the cold winter months. It's usually the last month before swamps and lakes freeze over up north, and therefore it was the last month to stock up on warm beaver furs.

Another folk name for November's full moon is the full frost moon, but according to The Old Farmer's Almanac, beaver moon is the name that stuck.

When to See the Beaver Moon

Following September's Friday the 13th harvest moon and October's hunter's moon, the beaver moon in November is the next full moon to catch. It will reach its fullest state at 8:34 a.m. ET, but it will still appear full the previous night and the following evening. For the best viewing conditions, go out when the sky is darkest—usually around midnight—on November 12, and make sure you're in a spot with minimal light pollution. Here are some more tips for sky gazing.

The Moon Will Make Mars Disappear Next Week

Take a break from stargazing to watch the moon swallow Mars on February 18.
Take a break from stargazing to watch the moon swallow Mars on February 18.
Pitris/iStock via Getty Images

On Tuesday, February 18, the moon will float right in front of Mars, completely obscuring it from view.

The moon covers Mars relatively often—according to Sky & Telescope, it will happen five times this year alone—but we don’t always get to see it from Earth. Next week, however, residents of North America can look up to see what’s called a lunar occultation in action. The moon's orbit will bring it between Earth and Mars, allowing the moon to "swallow" the Red Planet over the course of 14 seconds. Mars will stay hidden for just under 90 minutes, and then reemerge from behind the moon.

Depending on where you live, you might have to set your alarm quite a bit earlier than you usually do in order to catch the show. In general, people in eastern parts of the country will see Mars disappear a little later; in Phoenix, for example, it’ll happen at 4:37:27 a.m., Chicagoans can watch it at 6:07:10 a.m., and New Yorkers might even already be awake when the moon swallows Mars at 7:36:37 a.m.

If you can’t help but hit the snooze button, you can skip the disappearing act (also called immersion) and wait for Mars to reappear on the other side of the moon (called emersion). Emersion times vary based on location, too, but they’re around an hour and a half later than immersion times on average. You can check the specific times for hundreds of cities across the country here [PDF].

Since it takes only 14 seconds for Mars to fully vanish (or reemerge), punctuality is a necessity—and so is optical aid. Mars won’t be bright enough for you to see it with your naked eye, so Sky & Telescope recommends looking skyward through binoculars or a telescope.

Thinking of holding an early-morning viewing party on Tuesday? Here are 10 riveting facts about Mars that you can use to impress your guests.

[h/t Sky & Telescope]

A Snow Moon Will Light Up February Skies

makasana, iStock via Getty Images
makasana, iStock via Getty Images

February is the snowiest month of the year in many parts of the U.S., but on February 9, consider braving the weather outside to look up at the sky. That Sunday morning, the only full snow moon of the year will be visible. Here's what you need to know about the celestial event.

What is a snow moon?

If you keep track of the phases of the moon, you may already know that the full moon of each month has its own special name. Following January's wolf moon lunar eclipse is a snow moon in February. The name snow moon is said to have originated with Native American tribes, and it refers to the heavy snowfall that hits many parts of North America in February.

According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, different tribes had different names for February's full moon. The Wishram people named it the shoulder to shoulder around the fire moon and the Cherokee people called it the bone moon because animal bones were sometimes their only source of nutrition in the dead of winter. Snow moon is the name that's most commonly used by almanacs today.

When to See the Snow Moon

The moon will enter its next full phase the morning of Sunday, February 9. The snow moon will be at its fullest at 2:34 a.m. EST, but if you're not willing to stay up that late, it's still worth looking up. The previous evening—Saturday, February 8—the moon will be 99 percent illuminated on the East Coast. Check your local weather forecast and find a spot with clear skies to get the best view of the wintertime spectacle.

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