The next full Moon is the Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, Sugar Moon, Worm Moon, Lenten Moon, Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, a supermoon and the Chinese Lantern Festival.

full moon over desert with dead tree
The Moon sets over the early morning desert in Arches National Park, Utah on July 28, 2018. Credit: NASA/Bill Dunford

The next full Moon will be on Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, appearing "opposite" the Sun (in Earth-based longitude) at 10:54 AM EST. The full Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Sunday night through Wednesday evening.

This will be the last full Moon of winter. The Maine Farmer's Almanac first published "Indian" names for the full Moons in the 1930's. Some writers tie these names to the months of our modern calendar, but I think it more likely these names were tied to the seasons. As the last full Moon of winter, this Moon is called the Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, Sugar Moon, or Worm Moon. The more northern tribes of the northeastern United States knew this as the Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter. Other northern names were the Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing by night, or the Sap (or Sugar) Moon as this is the time for tapping maple trees. More southern tribes called this the Worm Moon after the earthworm casts that appear as the ground thaws. It makes sense that only the southern tribes called this the Worm Moon. When glaciers covered the northern part of North America they wiped out the native earthworms. These glaciers melted about 12,000 years ago and the more northern forests grew back without earthworms. The species of earthworms we have now in these areas are invasive species from Europe and Asia. The Europeans called this the Lenten Moon, as this Moon corresponds with Lent, and the next full Moon, the first full Moon in Spring, occurs just before Easter. Tying the Moon names to the European months, the full Moon in February is the Snow Moon or the Hunger Moon. Updating the tradition of naming Moons after prominent phenomena tied to the time of year, my friend Tom suggested naming this the Pothole Moon, and given what I ran into on my way home the last two evenings, this seems appropriate.

The peak of this full Moon will occur only 6 hours, 50 minutes after perigee, making this a supermoon. The term "supermoon" was introduced by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and has become popular, particularly when it refers to a brighter than usual full Moon. By Richard Nolle's definition, the full Moons in January, February, and March of 2019 will be supermoons, with the February Moon the brightest of the three. In addition, full Moons during northern hemisphere winters tend to be brighter because the Earth and Moon are closer to the Sun and because the full Moon rides higher in the sky.

In lunisolar calendars the months change with the new Moon and full Moons fall in the middle of the lunar months. This full Moon is the middle of the first month of the Chinese calendar. The 15th day of the first month is the Chinese Lantern Festival, the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations. Since twelve lunar months are about 11 days shorter than a solar year, lunisolar calendars add an occasional leap month to keep the calendar in sync with the seasons. In the Hebrew calendar this full Moon is in the middle of one of these leap months, the first Adar or Adar Aleph. In the Islamic calendar the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon a few days after the New Moon. This full Moon is near the middle of Jumada al-Thani, the sixth month of the calendar.

As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon.

Mark Your Calendars

As for other celestial events between now and the full Moon after next:

As winter ends, the daily periods of sunlight will be lengthening at nearly the fastest for the year. On the day of the full Moon on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, morning twilight will begin at 5:56 AM, sunrise will be at 6:55 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum altitude of 39.9 degrees at 12:22 PM, sunset will be at 5:50 PM, and evening twilight will end at 6:48 PM EST. On the last day of standard time, Saturday, March 9, 2019, morning twilight will begin at 5:32 AM, sunrise will be at 6:29 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum altitude of 46.7 degrees at 12:19 PM, sunset will be at 6:09 PM, and evening twilight will end at 7:06 PM, all in EST. We "spring forward" into daylight savings time on Sunday, giving us an "extra" hour of sunlight in the evening but shifting the time of sunrise back to within a few minutes of when sunrise was in late December and early January. These are not the latest sunrises of the year. The latest sunrises come in late October and early November, just before we "fall back" to standard time. On Sunday, March 10, 2019, morning twilight will begin at 6:30 AM, sunrise will be at 7:27 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum altitude of 47.1 degrees at 1:19 PM, sunset will be at 7:10 PM, and evening twilight will end at 8:07 PM, all in EDT. By the day of the full Moon after next, Wednesday, March 20, 2019, morning twilight will begin at 6:14 AM, sunrise will be at 7:12 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum altitude of 51.0 degrees at 1:16 PM, sunset will be at 7:20 PM, and evening twilight will end at 8:18 PM EDT.

On the evening of the full Moon on Feb. 19, 2019, as evening twilight ends, the bright stars of the local arm of our home galaxy, including the constellation Orion, will appear spread across the sky from the south-southeast to the northwest. The bright star appearing nearly overhead will be Capella. The planet Mars will appear in the west-southwest about 48 degrees above the horizon and the planet Mercury will appear in the west about 3 degrees above the horizon. As the month progresses, Mars will appear to shift gradually towards the west. Mercury will reach its greatest angular separation from the Sun (as seen from Earth) for this apparition on Feb. 26, appearing at its highest above the horizon (at the time evening twilight ends) on Feb. 27, 2019. After this, Mercury will appear to shift quickly towards the horizon and the setting Sun. By March 8, Mercury will be setting at the time evening twilight ends, will be lost in the glow of sunset a few days later, and pass between the Earth and the Sun (called Inferior Conjunction) on March 14, 2019, shifting from the evening sky into the morning sky. By the night of the full Moon on March 20, 2019, as evening twilight ends, the bright stars of the local arm and will Mars will appear to have shifted towards the west, with Mars appearing about 39 degrees above the horizon. The bright stars appearing nearly overhead will be Caster and Pollux, the twins in the constellation Gemini.

On the morning of the full Moon on Feb. 19, 2019, as morning twilight begins, three planets will be visible. The brightest, Venus, as the Morning Star, will appear in the southeast about 12 degrees above the horizon, with Saturn appearing about 1.5 degrees to the right. They will be at their closest the day before, on Feb. 18, 2019. The second brightest planet, Jupiter, will appear in the south-southeast at about 25 degrees above the horizon. As the month progresses, Jupiter, Saturn, and the background of stars will appear to shift towards the west, while Venus gradually shifts to the east towards the horizon. By the morning of the full Moon on March 20, 2019, Jupiter will appear in the south about 28 degrees above the horizon, Saturn in the southeast at about 21 degrees above the horizon, and Venus in the east-southeast at about 6 degrees above the horizon. If you look about 30 minutes before sunrise, Mercury should just be starting to be visible, having passed between the Earth and the Sun on March 14, 2019.

On Wednesday evening, Feb. 13, 2019, the bright star Aldebaran will appear to the lower left near the waxing gibbous Moon. For the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end at 6:42 PM, the Moon will reach its highest in the sky for the night at 7:01 PM, and Aldebaran will set Thursday morning at 2:07 AM EST.

Even though they are not visible usually, I include in these Moon missives information about Near Earth Objects (mostly asteroids) that pass the Earth within about 20 lunar distances, because I find it interesting that we have discovered so many. On Saturday afternoon, Feb. 16, 2019, at 1:35 PM EST (2019-Feb-16 18:35 UTC), Near Earth Object (2019 CG5), between 11 and 24 meters (35 to 78 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 5.9 lunar distances, traveling at 8.91 kilometers per second (19,937 miles per hour).

On Monday morning, Feb. 18, 2019, the bright planet Venus and the planet Saturn will appear nearest to each other in the morning sky, appearing about 12 degrees above the southeast horizon as morning twilight begins (at 5:58 AM EST for the Washington, DC area).

Monday night into Tuesday morning, Feb. 18 to 19, 2019, the bright star that will appear to be shifting closer to the Moon throughout the night will be Regulus. Regulus will appear to the lower left of the Moon at the time the Moon is highest in the sky for the night (at midnight for the Washington, DC area), and will appear to shift closer until morning twilight begins (at 5:56 AM EST).

Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, at 4:04 AM EST, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit. As mentioned above, the next full Moon will be on Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, at 10:54 AM EST (6 hours, 50 minutes after perigee, making this a supermoon). Tuesday evening, as evening twilight ends, Regulus will appear about 8 degrees to the upper right of the full Moon, and they will appear to shift apart as the evening progresses.

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at 12:55 PM EST (2019-Feb-19 17:55 UTC), Near Earth Object (2013 MD8), between 38 and 86 meters (126 to 282 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 15.1 lunar distances, traveling at 13.60 kilometers per second (30,418 miles per hour).

On Wednesday morning, Feb. 20, 2019, at around 3:44 AM EST (2019-Feb-20 08:44 UTC with 6 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CY1), between 20 and 45 meters (66 to 148 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 3.3 lunar distances, traveling at 13.36 kilometers per second (29,893 miles per hour).

On Wednesday morning, Feb. 20, 2019, at 10:57 AM EST (2019-Feb-20 15:57 UTC), Near Earth Object 455176 (1999 VF22), between 202 and 451 meters (662 to 1,479 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 19.1 lunar distances, traveling at 26.48 kilometers per second (59,244 miles per hour).

On Friday morning, Feb. 22, 2019, at 10:56 AM EST (2019-Feb-22 15:56 UTC), Near Earth Object (2016 CO246), between 18 and 39 meters (58 to 129 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 15.8 lunar distances, traveling at 5.52 kilometers per second (12,358 miles per hour).

Friday night into Saturday morning, Feb. 22 to 23, 2019, the bright star Spica will appear to the lower right of the waning gibbous Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise in the east at 9:40 PM, with Spica rising 17 minutes later, and the Moon will reach its highest in the sky at 3:39 AM EST.

On Saturday morning, Feb. 23, 2019, at around 3:33 AM EST (2019-Feb-23 08:33 UTC with 4 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CK5), between 15 and 34 meters (50 to 112 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 13.1 and 13.6 lunar distances (nominally 13.3), traveling at 8.94 kilometers per second (19,994 miles per hour).

On Saturday night, Feb. 23, 2019, 2019, at 10:22 PM EST (2019-Feb-24 03:22 UTC), Near Earth Object (2019 BF1), between 92 and 206 meters (302 to 676 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 11.2 lunar distances, traveling at 9.13 kilometers per second (20,422 miles per hour).

On Sunday morning, Feb. 24, 2019, at around 8:19 AM EST (2019-Feb-24 13:19 UTC with 1 hour, 35 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CK1), between 24 and 54 meters (80 to 178 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 16.0 and 16.8 lunar distances (nominally 16.4), traveling at 10.21 kilometers per second (22,828 miles per hour).

On Monday morning, Feb. 25, 2019, at around 10:16 AM EST (2019-Feb-25 15:16 UTC with 24 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CJ), between 19 and 43 meters (63 to 141 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 7.3 and 7.5 lunar distances (nominally 7.4), traveling at 4.82 kilometers per second (10,772 miles per hour).

On Tuesday morning, Feb. 26, 2019, at 5:24 AM EST (2019-Feb-26 10:24 UTC), Near Earth Object (2019 CF4), between 11 and 24 meters (35 to 78 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 15.4 and 15.7 lunar distances (nominally 15.6), traveling at 3.73 kilometers per second (8,333 miles per hour).

Tuesday morning, Feb. 26, 2019, the waning Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its last quarter at 6:28 AM EST.

On Tuesday evening, Feb. 26, 2019, the planet Mercury will be at its greatest angular separation from the Sun as seen from the Earth, called greatest eastern elongation, appearing half full when viewed by telescope. Mercury will appear in the west about 6 degrees above the horizon.

On Wednesday morning, Feb. 27, 2019, the 2nd brightest planet, Jupiter, will appear below the waning crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise in the east-southeast at 1:56 AM with Jupiter rising at 2:19 AM EST. They will appear to shift closer together until Jupiter is lost in the glow of dawn, with morning twilight beginning at 5:46 AM.

Sometime around Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, (2019-Feb-27 16:09 UTC with 15 hours, 8 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2016 FU12), between 11 and 25 meters (36 to 81 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 12.7 and 20.1 lunar distances (nominally 15.4), traveling at 5.23 kilometers per second (11,706 miles per hour).

On Wednesday evening, Feb. 27, 2019, the planet Mercury will appear at its highest above the western horizon for this apparition at the time evening twilight ends (around 6:56 PM EST for the Washington, DC area), appearing about 6 degrees above the horizon.

On Friday morning, March 1, 2019, the planet Saturn will appear to the lower left of the waning crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise in the east-southeast at 3:44 AM and Saturn will rise at 4:01 AM EST. They will appear to shift closer together until Saturn is lost in the glow of dawn, with morning twilight beginning at 5:43 AM.

On Saturday morning, March 2, 2019, the brightest of the planets, Venus, will appear to the lower left of the waning crescent Moon, with Saturn appearing to the upper right. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise in the east-southeast at 4:30 AM and Venus will rise at 4:42 AM EST. They will appear to shift closer together until Venus is lost in the glow of dawn, with morning twilight beginning at 5:42 AM.

Sometime around Saturday, March 2, 2019, (2019-Mar-02 20:56 UTC with 2 days, 1 hour, 4 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CT4), between 38 and 86 meters (126 to 282 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 5.0 and 7.5 lunar distances (nominally 6.2), traveling at 12.25 kilometers per second (27,406 miles per hour).

Sunday morning, March 3, 2019, the waning crescent Moon will appear to have shifted to the lower left of Venus, rising (for the DC area) at 5:11 AM, about a half hour before morning twilight begins.

On Sunday evening, March 3, 2019, at around 7:10 PM EST (2019-Mar-04 00:10 UTC with 34 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CX4), between 22 and 49 meters (73 to 162 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 18.0 and 18.8 lunar distances (nominally 18.4), traveling at 6.96 kilometers per second (15,575 miles per hour).

Monday morning, March 4, 2019, at 6:25 AM EST, the Moon will be at apogee, its farthest from the Earth for this orbit. Following the sage advice of C. B. Boff, Monday, March 4th is a good day to march forth and do good deeds. My favorite poem by C. B. Boff is: "Space it big, Light is fast, Time is long, Will mankind last?"

On Monday morning, March 4, 2019, at around 8:23 AM EST (2019-Mar-04 13:23 UTC with 45 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CW), between 48 and 108 meters (159 to 355 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 19.1 and 19.3 lunar distances (nominally 19.2), traveling at 11.57 kilometers per second (25,877 miles per hour).

On Monday afternoon, March 4, 2019, at 4:03 PM EST (2019-Mar-04 21:03 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 EG), between 19 and 43 meters (63 to 141 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 1.1 lunar distances, traveling at 9.63 kilometers per second (21,545 miles per hour).

Tuesday, March 5, 2019, will be Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, the traditional carnival on the last night before the 40 days of fasting for Lent. The date of Mardi Gras is 47 days before Easter, and Easter is tied to the first Sunday after the first full Moon of spring.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019, at 11:04 AM EST, will be the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from the Earth. The new Moon marks the start of the month in many lunisolar calendars. Sundown on March 6 marks the start of Adar II, also known as Adar Bet or Adar Sheni, in the Hebrew calendar. Since China Standard Time is 13 hours ahead of EST, the new Moon is after midnight in China, so Thursday, March 7, 2019, is the start of the second month of the Chinese calendar.

Friday evening, March 8, 2019, if you have a clear view of the western horizon as evening twilight ends, you should be able to see the thin, waxing crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, at least, this is the season when the waxing crescent Moon appears most like a smile or an upward-facing bowl in the evening sky, called a "Cheshire Moon" or a "Wet Moon." The term "Cheshire moon" is a reference to the smile of the Cheshire Cat of Lewis Carroll's story Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. According to Wikipedia, the term "Wet Moon" originates from Hawaiian mythology, when the Moon appears like a bowl that could fill up with water. The period when this occurs roughly corresponds with Kaelo the Water Bearer in Hawaiian astrology. As the year passes into summer, the crescent shape tilts each lunar month, pouring out the water and causing the summer rains. In the Islamic calendar the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon a few days after the New Moon. The sighting of this crescent Moon on Friday evening, March 8, 2019, should mark the beginning of Rajab, the seventh month of the year 1440. Rajab is one of the four sacred months in which warfare and fighting are forbidden.

Sometime around Saturday, March 9, 2019, (2019-Mar-09 07:18 UTC with 3 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2012 DF31), between 35 and 78 meters (115 to 257 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 9.1 and 34.1 lunar distances (nominally 9.1), traveling at 15.26 kilometers per second (34,142 miles per hour).

Don't forget to "Spring Forward" as we begin Daylight Savings Time on Sunday morning, March 10, 2019. As reported on Car Talk, in the USA, 2 to 3 AM local time on the Sunday morning when daylight savings starts tends to be the safest hour on record, with no auto accidents reported (except in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and the non-Navajo regions of Arizona).

Sometime on Monday, March 11, 2019, (2019-Mar-11 18:27 UTC with 8 hours, 12 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CM4), between 67 and 149 meters (219 to 490 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 13.3 and 14.2 lunar distances (nominally 13.8), traveling at 12.08 kilometers per second (27,020 miles per hour).

On Monday evening, March 11, 2019, the planet Mars will appear about 8 degrees to he right of the waxing crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end at 8:08 PM, Mars will set in the west-northwest at 11:51 PM, and the Moon will set Tuesday morning at 12:07 AM EDT.

On Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, March 12 to 13, 2019, the bright star Aldebaran will appear to the upper left of the waxing crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end at 8:09 PM, and the pair will appear to move closer together until the Moon sets in the west-northwest Wednesday morning at 1:10 AM, with Aldebaran setting around 1:21 AM EDT.

Sometime around Wednesday, March 13, 2019, (2019-Mar-13 05:48 UTC with 5 days, 7 hours, 46 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2013 EG68), between 28 and 62 meters (91 to 204 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 11.8 and 82.1 lunar distances (nominally 19.3), traveling at 17.03 kilometers per second (38,088 miles per hour).

Sometime around Wednesday, March 13, 2019, (2019-Mar-13 06:24 UTC with 3 days, 15 hours, 33 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2012 VZ19), between 20 and 45 meters (66 to 148 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 7.6 and 54.1 lunar distances (nominally 7.7), traveling at 8.04 kilometers per second (17,988 miles per hour).

On Thursday morning, March 14, 2019, the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 6:27 AM EDT.

Thursday, March 14, 2019, at about 10 PM EDT, will be when the planet Mercury passes on the near side of the Sun as seen from Earth, called inferior conjunction.

On Monday evening into Tuesday morning, March 18 to 19, 2019, the bright star Regulus will appear to the lower right of the nearly full waxing gibbous Moon. For the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end at 8:16 PM, the Moon will reach its highest in the sky at 11:40 AM, and Regulus will set in the west-northwest at 6:12 AM EDT, just a few minutes before morning twilight begins.

Sometime around Monday, March 18, 2019, (2019-Mar-19 00:40 UTC with 1 day, 13 hours, 28 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CL2), between 53 and 119 meters (174 to 389 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 9.7 and 10.8 lunar distances (nominally 10.3), traveling at 7.52 kilometers per second (16,817 miles per hour).

Tuesday afternoon, March 19, 2019, at 3:47 PM EDT, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit.

Sometime around Wednesday, March 20, 2019, (2019-Mar-20 11:38 UTC with 8 hours, 8 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 CD5), between 97 and 216 meters (317 to 708 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 10.0 and 10.4 lunar distances (nominally 10.2), traveling at 17.04 kilometers per second (38,117 miles per hour).

Wednesday evening, March 20, 2019, at 5:58 PM EDT, will be the vernal equinox, the astronomical start of spring. As mentioned above, the next full Moon will be on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 9:43 PM EDT, just a few hours after the start of spring.

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