Tonight’s full moon is the last one we’ll see before 2020. And conveniently for those of us who go to bed early, sunset is always the perfect time to see the full moon.
As Eric Mack points out at CNN, a full moon will always be on the opposite side of the earth from the sun, so it rises in the east at the same time the sun sets in the west. And at this time of day, the moon looks its biggest and brightest.
There’s also something numerically special about this moon: if you’re on Eastern time, it reached its full brightness last night, at 12:12am on 12/12. Cute, right? It’s still more than 99 per cent full, so you’re not missing much if you don’t get to see it until tonight.
One more bit of trivia: the traditional folk astronomy name for a December full moon is a cold moon. This is from the same Native American-derived set of names that gives us “wolf moon” (January) and “harvest moon” (September). However, the actual names that tribes used for their lunar calendars varied; you can find a list of them here. Moon names that roughly correspond to December include some describing snow or cold, but also “popping trees” and “moon of cooking.”