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What Is a Wolf Moon? And When You Can See It This Week

Full Wolf Moon in the Netherlands lights up the January clear winter sky. The first full moon of 2022, the Wolf Moon as rises and lightens the Dutch sky in a residential area near Eindhoven behind houses and buildings. Credit - Nicolas Economou/ Getty Images

The first full moon of 2024, known as the “wolf moon,” will appear Wednesday night, and will remain visible until Friday

It’s expected to reach its peak on Thursday at 12:54 PM ET— though viewers will have to wait until the evening to see it, and it will look like a full moon until midnight on Friday.

No special equipment is needed to view the moon, though binoculars or a telescope can help get a closer look.

Why is it called a wolf moon?

NASA says the wolf moon got its name from “the packs of wolves heard howling outside the villages amid the cold and deep snows of winter,” usually around January. (Though it might be a myth that wolves ever howled at the moon to begin with, according to the Smithsonian.)

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The wolf moon also goes by different names in different regions and holds significance in many cultures. European names include  the “Ice Moon” and the “Old Moon.” In Sri Lanka, Duruthu Poya, celebrated on the first full moon in January, marks the first visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka.

“As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon,” NASA said in its skywatching guide. “Make sure you are ready for the cold weather and take advantage of these early sunsets to enjoy and share the wonders of the night sky.”

The next full moon, known as the “Snow moon”, will take place on Feb. 24.

Write to Simmone Shah at simmone.shah@time.com.