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February's full moon is rising Saturday. It might look smaller than usual.

You might notice that the full moon on Saturday looks a bit smaller than usual. While the moon is indeed shrinking, it will only look smaller this month because it's slightly farther away.

In fact, astronomers say that Saturday's full "snow" moon will appear the smallest of any full moon of the year. Thus, it's known colloquially as a "micromoon" or "minimoon," which occurs when a full moon coincides with apogee, the point in the moon's orbit that's farthest away from Earth, according to TimeandDate.com.

"This is the counterpart to the supermoon, which has evolved into a viral sensation in recent years," said AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada. A micromoon can appear 14% smaller and 30% dimmer than a supermoon, he said.

When is the full moon?

The moon becomes officially full for folks on the U.S. East Coast on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. EST, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.

That means the moon on both Friday and Saturday nights will look pretty close to being full.

Why is it called the snow moon?

According to the Farmers' Almanac, full moon names date back to Native Americans in the northern and eastern U.S. "The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon," the almanac reports. "Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred."

Calling February's full moon the "snow" moon is usually right on target: On average, February is typically the USA's snowiest month, according to past climate data from the National Weather Service.

But for much of the U.S., that's not the case this month: Only 21% of the U.S. is snow covered as of Wednesday, NOAA reports. That's the least for this date in the past seven years.

The Farmer's Almanac also said some tribes referred to February's moon as the "hunger" moon because harsh weather conditions often made hunting difficult.

Winter's final full moon

This weekend's full moon will be the final full moon of winter, Lada said, as the next one will not occur until after the March equinox, on March 19, which will signal the arrival of astronomical spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

And as for the moon's names, the snow moon follows January's wolf moon. The worm moon will grace the sky in March.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Small moon? February 2024 full moon, the 'snow moon,' rises Saturday.