How to see the January Wolf Moon and this year's supermoons, eclipses and meteor showers

·6 min read

The first full moon of 2022, the so-called Wolf Moon, kicks off a year of skywatching that features total lunar eclipses, supermoons and multiple meteor showers.

Kevin White, the public program supervisor at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, shares his viewing tips below along with advice from NASA and the International Meteor Organization.

First up, the Wolf Moon on Monday, Jan. 17. The first full moon in January is known as the Wolf Moon, a nickname name taken from wolves that howled outside villages during winter snows. On Monday, moonrise is around 5:30 p.m. Nearly full moons on the nights before and after should make for great views as well.

Feb. 16: Full moon called the Snow Moon.

March 18: Full moon known as the Worm Moon, which refers to earthworms appearing as the ground thaws and the soil warms, according to the Farmers' Almanac.

The supermoon, also known as the pink moon, rises over the Papago Park Buttes in Phoenix on April 7, 2020. It is the biggest and brightest supermoon of the 2020.
The supermoon, also known as the pink moon, rises over the Papago Park Buttes in Phoenix on April 7, 2020. It is the biggest and brightest supermoon of the 2020.

April 16: Full moon nicknamed the Pink Moon. The moon won't actually appear to be pink on this night. The nickname comes from the shrub-like wild phlox that covers the ground in the spring.

When to see the Lyrids, Aquarids meteor showers

Evening of April 21 until dawn April 22: Lyrids Meteor Shower. Meteors are mostly leftover particles from comets about the size of a grain of sand. As the comet's tail comes into contact with Earth's atmosphere, the particles burn up and create a streak of light.

The Lyrids isn't the most plentiful meteor shower — about 10 to 20 meteors an hour at the peak. The shower gets its name from the constellation, Lyra the harp, as the meteors appear to radiate from this area in the sky. But don't limit your eyes to just one part of the sky because the streaks of light stream rapidly past. You can see meteors in any part of the sky.

Evening of May 4 until dawn on May 5: Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower. This shower should be good viewing because there will be only a thin sliver of moon, meaning skies will be darker and meteors will be easier to see.

Expect the most activity after midnight as our side of the Earth turns into the pathway of the meteor shower.

Get out of the city, if you can, where the skies are darker. Or find a dark place in your yard away from street and house lights. Put away your cell phone and give your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the dark. Meteors can appear throughout the sky, so be patient.

When to see the supermoon and lunar eclipse

A lunar eclipse appears over Mesa, Arizona, on Jan. 20, 2019. The phenomenon is otherwise known as a super blood wolf moon for its larger than normal size, the reddish color from the earth's shadow and the name given to the full moon in January.
A lunar eclipse appears over Mesa, Arizona, on Jan. 20, 2019. The phenomenon is otherwise known as a super blood wolf moon for its larger than normal size, the reddish color from the earth's shadow and the name given to the full moon in January.

May 15: Supermoon known as the Flower Moon, and on the same night a total lunar eclipse will be visible across North America. Supermoons happen when the moon is closer than usual, making it appear brighter and slightly larger.

During lunar eclipses, the sun, Earth and moon align so the moon passes into Earth's shadow. The moon takes on a reddish color because the only sunlight reaching it passes through Earth's atmosphere. The more dust or clouds in the Earth's atmosphere, the redder the moon appears, according to NASA. Lunar eclipses are sometimes called "blood moons" because of their reddish color.

Assuming the weather is good, this lunar eclipse happens at a great time for viewing, beginning around 7:30 p.m. with maximum coverage shortly after 9 p.m. Arizona time. Best viewing will be between 8:30-10 p.m.

June 14: Supermoon known as the Strawberry Moon. Supermoons happen a couple of times a year when a full moon coincides with the point in its orbit that brings it about 15,000 miles closer to the Earth than usual.

A plane crosses in front of a rising supermoon in Mesa on Dec. 13, 2016.
A plane crosses in front of a rising supermoon in Mesa on Dec. 13, 2016.

July 13: Supermoon known as the Buck Moon. The moon's nickname comes from the time of year when the new antlers of male deer push out of their foreheads, according to the Farmers' Almanac. It is also sometimes called the Thunder Moon because of the frequent thunderstorms that happen during July.

Evening of July 29 until dawn July 30: Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower. This shower produces about 20 meteors an hour. It's not one of the more plentiful showers. But this year it happens during a new moon phase so the darker skies should make for good viewing.

Aug. 11: Supermoon known as the Sturgeon Moon. The nickname comes from the fish in the Great Lakes. As a bonus, there is a meteor shower taking place overnight as well.

Evening of Aug. 11 until dawn 12: Perseids Meteor Shower. This is typically one of the year's best meteor showers along with the Geminids in December. But this year, the meteor shower competes with a full moon. This will limit the number of meteors you can see. In fact, the International Meteor Organization goes as far as to say that the full moon on Aug. 12 will "badly affect optical observations" of the meteor shower.

In Arizona, frequent monsoon storms in August also can interfere with viewing so you'll want to keep an eye on the weather forecast.

Aug. 14: Saturn at opposition. Opposition is when the planet, Earth and sun are in a straight line with Earth in the middle. It's a time when you can get the best and closest views of the planet. You'll need a telescope to be able to see Saturn's rings.

Sept. 10: Full moon known as the Harvest Moon.

Sept. 26: Jupiter at Opposition. On this night, Jupiter, Earth and the sun are in a straight line with Jupiter in the middle. You should be able to see Jupiter's moons through binoculars. With a telescope, you should be able to see the planet's signature stripes or bands.

The lunar eclipse from Litchfield Park
The lunar eclipse from Litchfield Park

Oct. 9: Full moon known as the Hunter's Moon.

Oct. 20-21: Orionids Meteor Shower: This should be one of the year's better meteor showers because a thin sliver of moon means darker skies and the ability to spot more meteors.

Nov. 8: A total lunar eclipse and full moon known as the Beaver Moon will be visible in the early morning hours of Nov. 8. Unlike the May eclipse, this one takes place in the middle of the night. So you will either have to stay up late or get up early to see this one.

The eclipse happens over about 6 hours from about 1-7 a.m. If you want to set an alarm, the best viewing will be around 3:30-4:30 a.m. More detail on exact times here.

Evening of Nov. 17 until dawn Nov. 18: Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids produce bright, fast-traveling meteors at a rate of about 15 per hour.

Dec. 7: Full moon known the Cold Moon.

Dec. 8: Mars at Opposition. At opposition, Mars, Earth and the sun are in a straight line with Earth in the middle. You get the best and closest view of the Red Planet from Earth on this night.

Evening of Dec. 13 until dawn Dec. 14: Geminids Meteor Shower. This is usually the year's best and most reliable meteor shower. But this year the shower is competing with moonlight, which means you won't be able to spot as many meteors. The International Meteor Organization calls such conditions rather poor for observing. But even so, the shower's high rate of bright meteors still makes this one worth going outside to see.

Reach the reporter at anne.ryman@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8072. Follow her on Twitter @anneryman.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Supermoons, eclipses and meteor showers: How to see them in 2022

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting