The Full Cold Moon – 22nd December 2018
The Cold Moon marks the longest and brightest night after yesterdays shortest and darkest day. The moon will appear in the sky on December 22, at 5.48 pm, the day after the Winter Solstice.
This is the case for the northern hemisphere, which has the winter months at the end of the year. In the southern hemisphere, the winter months fall around May to August, so the Cold Moon falls in June. The solstice marks the moment the sun shines over the Tropic of Capricorn – its most southern point.
The Full Cold Moon is known by various other names. It can also be called a Snow Moon and a Big Spirit Moon. In fact, all over the world, people have come up with creative names for a big moon on a cold night.
Why is the Moon special this year?
This year’s full cold moon falling almost exactly in line with the December winter solstice. The longest night of the year coincides with a big, beautiful full moon. It’s the first time since 2010 since the two have been less than 24 hours apart and the next event will not be until 2094!
The Ursid Meteor Shower
The Ursids are an annual event, beginning around 17th December and running until just after 25th December. They get their name from the constellation Ursa Minor, because of their position in the night sky – they appear to come shooting out from it. (Although, it’s just an optical illusion.)
The meteor shower, best observed in the Northern Hemisphere after midnight. The full cold moon will make viewing a little difficult. The shower can produce up to 100 meteors an hour.
What is the Aldebaran star?
The Aldebaran star is one of the brightest in the night sky, though it’s often quite hard to spot. That’s because it lies near the path of the ecliptic – how the sun, moon and planets move through the sky – which often leads to it being obscured by the moon. When it is visible, it’s very twinkly and bright, as you might expect from a star 44 times the size of the sun!