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Sat Dec 8, 2018, 06:23 PM

December Full Moon 2018: The 'Cold Moon' Marks the Start of Winter

By Jesse Emspak, Space.com Contributor | December 8, 2018 07:45am ET

The full moon of December, called the Full Cold Moon, will arrive on Dec. 22, a day after making a close pass by Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus.

The moon becomes officially full on Dec. 22 at 12:49 p.m. EST (1749 GMT), according to NASA. The moon will be in the constellation Taurus and will rise about 15 minutes after sunset. The full moon happens to occur a day after the winter solstice. The last time a full moon coincided with the solstice was in 2010, and the next will be in 2094.

One night before the full moon becomes full, skywatchers can see the nearly full moon snuggle up to the bright star Aldebaran. According to NASA, at 2:31 a.m. EST (0731 GMT) on Dec. 21, the moon will share the same celestial longitude as Aldebaran, a situation called a conjunction. Given the late winter sunrise and early sunsets in the Northern Hemisphere, the moment of conjunction will be visible to observers across the United States, and as far west as Hawaii, where the moon will rise at 4:29 pm. on Dec. 20. [The Brightest Planets in December's Night Sky: How to See them (and When)]

Those located in most of Europe won't catch the conjunction itself, as it will happen after the moon sets the morning of Dec. 21. For example, the moon sets in London at 6:09 a.m. on Dec. 21, or 22 minutes before the conjunction occurs. Icelanders will see the moon set at 8:58 a.m. local time, about 1.5 hours after the conjunction. (The sun doesn't rise there on that day until 11:22 a.m.)


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