This Friday the world will officially enter the winter season after the winter solstice, but aside from the beginning of the coldest season of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the last full moon of the year will light up the night sky this weekend.
The winter solstice will take place on Dec. 21 at 5:23 p.m. Eastern, while the full moon will appear the following day at 12:48 p.m. Eastern. Even though the winter solstice marks the longest night of the year, the full moon will light up the night sky. According to EarthSky, the last time the winter solstice and full moon occurred within a day of each other was in 2010, and the next time will be in 2029.
The website also notes that this the last full moon of the year, also known as the Cold Moon, the Long Night Moon and the Moon Before Yule. It is the third largest of this year after the super blue blood moon at the end of January and the supermoon in July. Nevertheless, experts can’t agree on whether this month’s full moon should also be considered a supermoon.
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Although the Northern Hemisphere’s names for December’s full moon sound chilly and dreadful, the Southern Hemisphere, which is about to enter the summer season, has much warmer names for it. The Southern Hemisphere calls it the Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon and Rose Moon.
We can expect the full moon to light up the sky between Dec. 20 and 22. On the first day, it will pass near the V-shaped Face of the Bull in the constellation Taurus. Unfortunately, that’s not good news for amateur astronomers who want to observe the Ursid meteor shower, which is active Dec. 17-24, according to Time and Date. The bright shine of the last full moon of the year will wash away the meteors streaking across the sky. Moreover, the moon will appear full to the naked eye for two to three nights, so it will be very difficult to watch the Ursids. The Geminid meteor shower, which took place earlier this month, offered great viewing conditions because of the new moon.
The Ursid meteor shower usually peaks around Dec. 23, and it originates from the 8P/Tuttle comet, which leaves behind space debris in its wake. The name is derived from the fact that these meteors radiate from the direction of the constellation Ursa Minor.