Wolf Moon: Full Moon in January 2023 | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Wolf Moon: Full Moon in January 2023

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Watch for January's Full Wolf Moon!

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The full Wolf Moon rises on Friday, January 6, 2023. It’s also a micromoon! How is that different from a supermoon? Learn what’s special about the January full Moon!

When to See January’s Full Moon

January’s full Wolf Moon reaches peak illumination on Friday, January 6, at 6:09 P.M. EST. At a full Moon,  the Moon is located on the opposite side of the Earth to the Sun so the face of the Moon facing towards the Earth will be completely illuminated by the Sun’s rays. Look for the Moon to rise from the northeastern horizon around sunset that evening.

Consult our Moonrise Calculator to see what time you can expect to catch a glimpse of the first full Moon of 2023!

January Micromoon

January’s full Moon is a “Micromoon” this year. Think of this term as the opposite of a “Supermoon.” It simply means that the full Moon is at its farthest point from Earth (not the nearest point). In astronomical terms, we call this “apogee.” Specifically, January’s Micro full Moon is about 252,600 miles from Earth. 

Why is the Moon nearer or farther (in this instance) from Earth? Simple: The Moon orbits Earth in an elliptical path. One side is nearer to Earth and one side is farther. This distance does affect the Moon’s size and brightness, although it’s probably not that visible to the naked eye. The perceived size of the Moon from Earth is more related to the “Moon Illusion” and how close the Moon appears to the horizon; in this case, it’s high above the horizon so it may not appear to loom over us the way it appears when it’s near the horizon.

Look up at the full Moon on the 6th (or a day earlier or later)! What do you think?

The sunset embers smolder low,
The Moon climbs o’er the hill, 
The peaks have caught the alpenglow,
The robin’s song is still.

–John L. Stoddard (1850–1931)

Why Is It Called the Full Wolf Moon?

The full Moon names used by The Old Farmer’s Almanac come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources. Traditionally, each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, not just to the full Moon itself.

The Wolf Moon

It’s thought that January’s full Moon came to be known as the Wolf Moon because wolves were more likely to be heard howling at this time. It was traditionally believed that wolves howled due to hunger during winter, but we know today that wolves howl for different reasons. Howling and other wolf vocalizations are generally used to define territory, locate pack members, reinforce social bonds, and coordinate hunting.

Wolves and Moon

Alternative January Moon Names

Another fitting name for this full Moon is the Center Moon. Used by the Assiniboine people of the Northern Great Plains, it refers to the idea that this Moon roughly marks the middle of the cold season.

Other traditional names for the January Moon emphasize the harsh coldness of the season: Cold Moon (Cree), Frost Exploding Moon (Cree), Freeze Up Moon (Algonquin), and Severe Moon (Dakota). Hard Moon (Dakota) highlights the phenomenon of the fallen snow developing a hard crust.

Canada Goose Moon (Tlingit), Great Moon (Cree), Greetings Moon (Western Abenaki), and Spirit Moon (Ojibwe) have also been recorded as Moon names for this month.

→ See all 12 months of Full Moon names and their meanings.

Moon Phases for January 2023

Below are the dates and times (in Eastern Time) of the Moon’s phases in December. See our Moon Phase Calendar for times in your city/state.

January Moon Phase Dates and Times

Full Moon: January 6, 6:09 P.M.
Last Quarter: January 14, 9:13 P.M.
New Moon: January 21, 3:55 P.M.
First Quarter: January 28, 10:20 A.M.

→ When is the next full Moon? See our Full Moon Dates chart.

A howling lone gray wolf in snow-covered landscape.

January Full Wolf Moon Video

Each month, we will explain the traditional names of the full Moon along with some fascinating Moon facts. In this video, learn about January’s full Wolf Moon. Click below to watch the video.

Best Days in January 2023

For Planting…

…Aboveground crops: 5, 24, 25
…Belowground crops: 15–17

For Setting Eggs

3, 4, 12, 13, 30, 31

For Fishing

1–6, 21–31

→ See all our Best Days for various activities.

Moon Folklore

A bright first Moon promises rain and a bountiful harvest; a red-tinted Moon means a dry year.

A growing Moon and a flowing tide are lucky times to marry.

A halo around the Moon predicts wet or stormy weather. 

Share your thoughts about this month’s full Moons below. Tell us if we’re missing anything that you would like to know!