The full moon each December is sometimes known as the “Cold Moon,” appearing as the Northern Hemisphere enters its coldest months of the year.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Algonquin tribes in the northern and eastern United States first named December’s full moon the Cold Moon. It’s also been called the Long Night Moon by Europeans because of its proximity to the winter solstice — the longest night of the year.
Other names include the Oak Moon (Europe), Moon before Yule (Europe), Uduvapa Poya (Sri Lanka), the Karthikai Deepam Moon (Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, and Kerala) and the Chang’e Moon (China).
The moon will be fully visible just after midnight Thursday morning, appearing “opposite” the sun — in Earth-based longitude — at 12:12 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on 12/12. Fans of numerology may equate the timing to harmony and completion as the decade comes to a close.
Over the course of the night, NASA points out it will also be possible to see five different planets. Looking southwest, Jupiter will be visible just after sunset, followed by Venus, the brightest planet in the sky, as twilight ends.
Saturn will appear less than two degrees away from Venus, a phenomenon called conjunction, or a planetary “kiss.” As morning twilight begins, Mercury will appear just above the horizon, followed by Mars. If you aren’t able to run outside to see the bright, full moon at midnight, it will still appear full through Friday morning, just before the peak of the Geminid meteor shower. The next full moon, the Wolf Moon, will be back January 10.