We’ve got good news for those of you who get too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve. This year there’s a reward for staying up late: a Christmas full moon. The Moon will start rising on Christmas Eve but won’t hit its peak until 6:11 EST the next morning, which is also good news for those of you who like to race downstairs on Christmas morning.
Each full moon has a name. This one, the last full moon of the year, is (rather unimaginatively) called the Cold Moon because it’s, well, cold outside. The Cold Moon will roll into the sky just a few days after the winter solstice, which falls on December 21 this year. After the solstice, which marks the official start of winter, the nights will begin to get shorter again. Still, there will be plenty of time to check out the full moon this week—and there's plenty of reason to. This will be the first Christmas full moon we’ve had since 1977, and we won’t see another until 2034.
"As we look at the Moon on such an occasion, it's worth remembering that the Moon is more than just a celestial neighbor," John Keller of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said in a press release. "The geologic history of the Moon and Earth are intimately tied together such that the Earth would be a dramatically different planet without the Moon."
So get outside and feast your eyes on this cosmic gift.