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The last full moon of 2021, also known as the Full Cold Moon, will be at its brightest on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 11:37 p.m. EST.
The moon will rise in the northeast just before sunset on Saturday, and it will remain visible in the night sky until Sunday morning.
However, if clouds get in the way on Saturday night, the moon will still appear full the night before and after as well.
The Cold Moon: How The Full Moon Gets Its Name
December’s full moon gets its name, Cold Moon, because the colder winter weather begins to take hold in the final month of the year.
This year, the full moon arrives just days before the winter solstice on Dec. 21, which is why December’s full moon has also been called the Long Night Moon, referring to the shorter days and longer nights associated with the winter season.
Other interesting names for December’s full moon include Frost Exploding Trees Moon, Winter Maker Moon and Snow Moon. That last one, however, is the same name typically given to February’s full moon.
In ancient Europe, there was a festive name reserved for the December full moon: the “Moon Before Yule.” This moniker came about because December’s full moon coincided with the Yuletide festival that celebrated the return of the sun heralded by winter solstice.
How Much Brighter Is A Full Cold Moon?
The Full Cold Moon will be no brighter than any other full moon, but it will shine bright for longer, thanks to the winter season’s long nights.
A full moon takes place when Earth is between the sun and the moon, which results in the sun’s light fully illuminating the moon. With the full face of the moon reflecting the sun’s light, the moon becomes six times brighter than a half moon.
A full moon is also the second-brightest object in the sky — second only to the sun.
When Is The Next Full Moon?
Our next full moon is the Wolf Moon on Jan. 17, 2022, because we typically get one full moon every month.
A complete moon cycle is about 29 and a half days, which is less than any one of our calendar months, so we occasionally get 13 full moons in a year, resulting in a blue moon (which is the term for the second full moon that occurs in a calendar month).
The last time this happened was in 2020, and the next time we’ll get 13 full moons in a calendar year will be 2023.