First Full Moon Of 2014 On January 15, ‘Mini Moon’ Is Smallest Of The Year

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full moon
Full moon photograph taken on Oct. 22, 2010, from Madison, Alabama

The first full moon of the New Year is also the smallest.

At 11:52 p.m. EST on Wednesday, a full moon will rise. Known as the “Full Wolf Moon,” it will appear 12.2 percent smaller than the largest full moon of the year that will occur on Aug. 10, Space.com reports.

The “mini moon” will occur 2 hours and 59 minutes after the moon reaches its greatest distance from Earth at 252,607 miles around 8:53 p.m. EST. This will make the moon appear to be the smallest of the year, roughly four percent smaller than average. The last time the “mini moon” occurred was in 2012.

Each full moon has a name that stems from a Native American tradition, where tribes used the lunar cycle to keep track of the seasons. The names applied to the entire month when the full moon occurred. Below is a list of the full moon names for 2014:

Jan. 15, 11:52 p.m. EST: Full Wolf Moon

This moon appeared when wolves howled outside villages vocalizing their hunger. It's also known as Old Moon or Moon After Yule.

Feb. 14, 6:53 p.m. EST: Full Snow Moon

Aptly named for the mounds of snow that fell during the month, some tribes used this name for the January moon, while the February moon was called the Hunger Moon for its challenging hunting conditions.

March 16, 1:08 p.m. EDT: Full Worm Moon

As the snow begins to melt, the earthworms return showing signs of spring. The Crow Moon and the Crust Moon were other names given to last moon of the winter.

April 15, 3:42 a.m. EDT: Full Pink Moon

Named after the pink flowers that pop up in the spring, this moon is also called the Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, and in coastal tribes, the Fish Moon.

May 14, 3:16 p.m. EDT: Full Flower Moon

With flowers in full bloom in Spring, this moon is also called the Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

June 13, 12:11 a.m. EDT: Full Strawberry Moon

Named after strawberry-picking season, this is one of the few moons that shared the same name throughout all the Algonquin tribes.

July 12, 7:25 a.m. EDT: Full Buck Moon

Also known as the Thunder Moon and Hay Moon, the full moon in July gets its namesake from the Buck Deer that begin to grow its antlers during this summer month.

Aug. 10, 2:09 p.m. EDT: Full Sturgeon Moon

This moon is named after the large fish that is commonly caught in the Great Lakes during this month. Its reddish haze had some tribes calling it the Red Moon.

Sept. 8, 9:38 p.m. EDT: Full Harvest Moon

The strong light emitted from this autumn moon gave farmers time to work late and harvest their crops. While the Harvest Moon doesn't always occur in September, its name is attributed to the full moon closest to the autumn equinox.

Oct. 8, 6:51 a.m. EDT: Full Hunters' Moon

After the leaves have fallen and the fields reaped, this month is the ideal time to hunt for deer since they are fat and easy to spot. This moon takes place during the year second total lunar eclipse, which is visible over western North America.

Nov. 6, 5:23 p.m. EST: Full Beaver Moon

As beavers prepare for the winter months, tribes would set beaver traps to build their fur supply before the cold sets in. This moon is also called the Frosty Moon.

Dec. 6, 5:23 p.m. EST: Full Cold Moon

Also known as the Long Night Moon, the last full moon of the year makes its highest arc in the sky since it is diametrically opposite to the low sun.

What is a blue moon?

Since the lunar cycle lasts 29 days, most seasons have three full moons, but since there is variation from year to year, some have four full moons. A blue moon is the term used to describe the second full moon in a given month. Blue moons aren't blue in color. The name came from James Hugh Pruett, an amateur astronomer, who wrote an article in Sky & Telescope magazine in 1946 that a “blue moon” describes the third full moon in a season. This error became a common misunderstanding until the magazine officially corrected it in 1999. A blue occurred roughly once every 2.7 years.

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