When and where to see the Cold Moon, the longest and last full moon of 2023

When and where to see the Cold Moon, the longest and last full moon of 2023

The longest — and last — full moon of the year will appear on Monday night and peak on Tuesday.

December’s full moon, also known as the Cold Moon and Long Night Moon, will reach peak illumination at 7:33 p.m. ET on Tuesday, according to NASA. It will look like a full moon until Thursday morning. The Old Farmer’s Almanac details specific moonrise times for different ZIP codes across the United States. 

Last Full moon of 2022
A formation of geese fly in for a landing on Stoney Creek with the last full moon of 2022 behind them. The Farmers Almanac calls it the Cold Moon. December 9, 2022.

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

To view the full moon, it’s not rocket science: NASA recommends going outside and looking up at the sky. Using a telescope or binoculars will magnify the moon and clarify details on its surface.  

Where does December’s full moon get its name from?

December’s full moon gets its Cold Moon moniker from Mohawk traditions, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The name is based on the frigid conditions of the time of year. 

The full moon is also called the Long Night Moon because December’s full moon occurs near the winter solstice, which has the longest night of the year. This year’s solstice was on Dec. 21.

“The full moon takes a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite to the low sun, so the moon will be above the horizon longer than at other times of the year,” according to NASA.

Other names for December’s full moon include Drift Clearing Moon, Frost Exploding Trees Moon, Moon of the Popping Trees, Hoar Frost Moon, Snow Moon, Winter Maker Moon, Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers and Little Spirit Moon, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. Ancient pagans in Europe called the December full Moon the Moon Before Yule.

Next month’s full moon is dubbed the Wolf Moon. It will peak on Jan. 25.

First Full Wolf Moon of 2023 in El Salvador
Known as the “Wolf Moon”, this full Moon is the first that occurs after the Winter Solstice, in the northern hemisphere, where the nights are still very long, or summer, in the southern hemisphere.

Alex Pena/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Is the moon ever full on Christmas?

December’s full moon does fall on Christmas sometimes, but it’s a rare occasion. The last full moon to peak on Christmas was in 2015. Before that, there hadn’t been one since 1977. 

Astronomers say the next Christmas full moon won’t be until 2034.

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