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Halo Appears Around Final Full Moon Of Meteorological Winter

The last full moon lit up the weekend sky, providing some skywatchers in the eastern United States with a show-stopping spectacle

The final full moon of meteorological winter illuminated the weekend sky, and for some skywatchers across the eastern United States, it created an eye-grabbing meteorological spectacle.

February’s full moon is commonly called the Snow Moon after the snowstorms that typically track across North America throughout the month. The nickname may not hold up to its meteorological origins this year as AccuWeather long-range forecasters are predicting mild spells across large areas of the U.S. in February before meteorological spring begins on March 1.

The recent full moon was also a micromoon, the counterpart to the ever-popular supermoon. Although it was not quite as bright or as large as other full moons, photographers around the globe still captured phenomenal photographs of Earth’s celestial companion as it glowed in the weekend sky.

IN FILE – Lunar halo is seen behind plane trails in the night sky over Turkey’s eastern Van province on November 20, 2021. PHOTO BY OZKAN BILGIN/GETTY IMAGES

The weekend night sky event was also the first full moon of the Lunar New Year, prompting celebrations around the world.

Folks from Kentucky to New Jersey witnessed more than just the Snow Moon in the sky over the weekend as a halo of light appeared to encircle the moon.

The phenomenon is known as a 22-degree halo and can happen only on the nights surrounding the full moon and when there is a thin layer of clouds high in the atmosphere that is comprised of ice crystals. The ice crystals refract the bright moonlight, creating a ring of light that appears around the moon. This is similar to the way raindrops refract light to create a rainbow.

Time once again for a little science on the night shift! If you were out late this evening, you may have noticed the full moon had an especially interesting appearance with a halo (and a few people even caught a glimpse of a double halo).

— NWS Mount Holly (@NWS_MountHolly) February 6, 2023

Rings of light can also appear during the daytime around the sun, but they can be more difficult to see. If a 22-degree halo is visible during the daytime, it is important to avoid looking directly at the sun with the naked eye as it can lead to permanent eye damage. Instead, it is best seen by blocking out the sun with an outstretched fist or by taking a photo of the sky with a cell phone camera.

The next full moon is the Worm Moon on March 7, and like its predecessor, its nickname can be traced back to the weather across North America.

IN FILE – A halo appears around the moon in the sky above a home in the Bronx borough of New York City December 20, 2010. The phenomenon is caused by the refraction of the light of the moon by ice crystals in the air. PHOTO BY DON EMMERT/AFP/ GETTY IMAGES

As temperatures slowly rise and the spring soil begins to warm in March, it allows earthworms to emerge from the softening soil after remaining underground throughout the winter months. Other nicknames for March’s full moon include the Wind Strong Moon, the Eagle Moon, the Goose Moon and the Snow Crust Moon.

Produced in association with AccuWeather.

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