Frost moon shines down on Europe ahead of super cold week

The sighting of a Frost Moon over Europe predicts the first major snowstorm of winter over the continent. The “Frost Moon” is the November full moon that appears for about two or three days. It’s also known as Beaver Moon or Mourning Moon, named by Native American groups who use moon cycles to track seasons.

This year’s frost moon was extra special since it included a partial lunar eclipse. It was visible to the naked eye for an hour. However, it was subtle enough that some people would look at it and not notice anything out of the ordinary. [1] 

The frost moon’s appearance coincides with forecasters predicting freezing temperatures and snow in the UK. 

Photos of the November Frost Moon in 2020 

Image Credit: Scott Lovegrove | Twitter

The Frost Moon can be seen here behind Hardy’s Monument near Dorchester in Dorset on November 30. 

Image Credit: EPA

This is another photograph of the moon over Berlin, warning of the temperatures about to plunge. 

Image Credit: EPA

This was taken in Lugo, Spain, on November 30.  

Image Credit: EPA

Another slightly more menacing photograph from Lugo, Spain. 

Image Credit: EPA

The Frost Moon from Berlin. 

Image Credit: EPA

This photograph is from Bahrain.  

Image Credit: EPA

A stunningly clear shot from Berlin.  

Read: A mysterious object will come so close to Earth, but scientists don’t know what it is

Why is the November Moon Called the Frost Moon? 

November isn’t the only month with a moon name. Native American tribes named the moons to keep track of the date so the names usually correlate with an event that coincides with that time or location. For instance, May’s moon is called Flower Moon and February’s is Snow Moon. These titles differ from tribe to tribe.  

November’s Frost Moon is also called Beaver Moon since beavers worked on building their hibernation homes at that time. They are also nocturnal, creating their home under the full moon before taking shelter for the winter. Frost Moon came from the idea that November is generally when the first snowfall occurs. Some theories mix these two names together. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, November “was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.” 

Another name for November’s moon is the Mourning Moon, but the reasons behind this are unknown. [2] 

Here are two more names: the Freezing Moon and the Digging (or Scratching) Moon. The former has the same implications as the Frost Moon as the frigid weather sets in. The latter is evocative of an animal foraging for food to store for the winter. [3] 

What is a Partial Lunar Eclipse? 

A partial lunar eclipse happens when the Earth goes between the moon and sun but the three bodies don’t form a straight line. This causes a shadow from the Earth to cast over a small section of the moon. The shadowed part of the moon is called the umbra and the part outside of the shadow is called the penumbra. This phenomenon usually occurs during a full moon, but not necessarily by every full moon. You don’t need special equipment to see it, but you do need to know the exact time and date or else you might miss it. [4] 

Keep Reading: Nokia wins NASA contract to put a 4G network on the moon. Yes, really.

[1] Kelly Allen. “A Frost Moon Eclipse Will Be Visible in the Sky Tonight.” Yahoo. November 29, 2020 

[2] Michelle Gross. “This Weekend’s Full Moon Actually Has A Weird History Behind It.” Bustle. November 3, 2017 

[3] “Full Moon For November 2020.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac. October 22, 2020 

[4] Vigdis Hocken and Aparna Kher. “What Is a Partial Lunar Eclipse?” Time and Date

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