Get ready to witness the celestial beauty of December's full moon, adding an extra twinkle to the festive spirit of Christmas. Aptly dubbed the "Cold Moon," here's your complete guide on when and where to catch this mesmerizing lunar event.
When to Witness the Full Moon in December 2023
If the thought of Santa's sleigh silhouetted against a glowing moon sparks your imagination, mark your calendars. The upcoming full moon is set to achieve its peak brilliance shortly after Christmas, on Wednesday, December 27, 2023, as confirmed by NASA.
To the unaided eye, the moon will present a nearly complete spectacle on the nights of December 24th and 25th, shining at around 93% and 98%, respectively. These luminous nights offer a perfect opportunity for parents to enchant their children with readings of "T'was the Night Before Christmas," as the "moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, gave the luster of mid-day to objects below."
Not only is this full moon a captivating sight, but it will also treat sky gazers to a partial lunar eclipse, as detailed by NASA experts. This celestial event occurs due to an imperfect alignment of the sun, Earth, and moon, causing the moon to traverse only a portion of Earth's umbra.
Exploring the Lunar Phases in December 2023
Keep track of the moon's phases throughout December:
Last Quarter: December 5.
New Moon: December 12.
First Quarter: December 19.
Full Moon: December 27.
Why the Moniker "Cold Moon"?
The origin of December's full moon as the "Cold Moon" or the "Winter Maker Moon," as documented by the Old Farmer's Almanac, is no enigma. It stands as the initial full moon following the winter solstice, a time when temperatures typically plummet in the northern hemisphere.
According to the National Weather Service, the winter solstice denotes the year's shortest day and longest night, coinciding with the moment when the sun directly hovers over the Tropic of Capricorn. This astronomical occurrence grants selenophiles—the admirers of the moon—an extended opportunity this month to revel in the splendor of Earth's lunar companion as it traverses the celestial sphere.