The December Full Moon — the last Full Moon of 2021 — will happen on December 19. Traditionally known as the Cold Moon, it’s also been called the Solstice Moon or the Long Night Moon. In today’s article, we talk about this Full Moon’s names and peculiarities.
What is a Cold Moon?
Traditionally, each Full Moon name represents peculiarities of the lunar month in which it occurs. The Cold Moon is no exception. Its name clearly denotes the harsh weather conditions of December when the temperature drops significantly.
December Full Moon Alternative Names
Full Moon names we commonly use nowadays have come from Native American culture. The name “Cold Moon”, in particular, came from the Mohawks — the Indigenous people of North America. But the Full Moons are called differently in other cultures. Here are some examples of the December Full Moon’s names:
- Chinese: Bitter Moon
- English Medieval: Oak Moon
- Cherokee: Snow Moon
- Colonial American: Christmas Moon
- Southern Hemisphere: Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon, Rose Moon
When is the Full Moon in December?
First of all, let’s clear up the term “Full Moon”. The Moon is said to be full at the moment when it lies opposite the Sun in ecliptic longitude; in other words, when the Moon-Sun elongation equals 180°. This month, the Moon will become full on December 19, 2021, at 04:35 GMT (December 18, 11:35 p.m. EST).
But you don’t really need the exact time. The Full Moon is most spectacular just after sunset when it appears bigger and orange in color. And don’t forget that to the naked eye, it looks full for several nights in a row. So wait for the moonrise on December 19–20 (or any night around) to enjoy the magical-looking Full Moon!
When is the next Full Moon?
If the sky is overcast these days, wait for January 17, 2022, when the next Full Moon, known as the Wolf Moon, will occur. We will explain what our natural satellite has to do with the wild doglike hunters in one of the upcoming articles closer to the date.
This month, the Full Moon takes place just two days before the solstice, which falls on December 21, 2021. When these two astronomical events happen so close, people call the Full Moon the Solstice Moon. And since the December solstice brings those in the Northern Hemisphere the shortest days and longest nights, this Full Moon is sometimes called the Long Night Moon.
Here is another reference to a solstice: the December Full Moon closely follows the June Sun’s path. You can see this happening as you watch the Full Moon lying nearly at the top of the sky in December for the Northern Hemisphere — as the Sun did six months ago, around the June solstice. Vice versa, in the Southern Hemisphere, the Moon stays low above the horizon — similar to the Sun in June.
Now you know the background of the December Full Moon’s names and the best time to view the bright lunar disk in the sky. Share this article with your friends if you like it.
We wish you clear skies and happy observations!