The days are short this time of year, but fortunately there's still plenty to see if you look up after the sun goes down. On the night of Saturday, December 18, you can catch a full cold moon illuminating the sky above your backyard. Read on to learn more about the spectacle, include the meaning of the name cold moon and the best time to see it.
What Is the Meaning of Cold Moon?
The first (and typically the only) full moon of every month has a special name, and December's full moon is called a cold moon. Though some full moon names have confusing origins, this one is pretty straightforward. The Mohawk people coined the nickname because the event coincides with the time of year when temperatures drop.
The cold moon falls between the beaver moon in November and the wolf moon in January, and it's often the last full moon of the year. That will be the case in 2021. If you want to squeeze in seeing one more full moon before the new year, make sure to look up at the right time and place.
How to See the Full Cold Moon
The cold moon will be at its brightest at 11:37 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on December 18. If you can't stay up that late to catch peak illumination, the full moon will still be visible throughout the night on Saturday. Moonrise and moonset times vary by location, and you can use The Old Farmer's Almanac's calculator to determine when the moon will appear in your area. The trajectory of December's full moon will stretch longer and higher than it does most months, which means sky-gazers will have ample opportunities to sneak a peek at it.