Imagine those greeting cards and pictures with Santa driving his sleigh across a full moon. The full December moon rarely happens during Christmas but this year of 2023, it will appear full on Dec. 24-27 even though its full illumination isn’t until 7:33 p.m. EST on Dec. 26.
Called by many cultures the “Cold” Moon, it is the first full Moon after the winter solstice which is this week, Dec. 21,2023. It’s easy to believe given how frigid the temps were Monday, and now, Tuesday.
But the weather is supposed to warm up in the Midwest to the mid and high 40s later in the week, so you may forget by Thursday how cold the week of the winter solstice really can be.
But after all, it is called the Cold Moon. Other names are the Oak Moon, Long Night Moon and usually, the Moon Before Yule.
Sky watchers might catch a glimpse of the Capricornids. They are not abundant but if you see a bright slash across the sky it’s likely to be a Capricornid meteor. They peaked July 26 but are continuing through mid-August.
Look for the triangular Capricornus (Sea Goat) constellation for the Capricornid radiant.
Then be rewarded for looking up the beginning of August when the Delta Aquarids fly across the sky at about 10 per hour.
They peaked July 29 but continue through Aug. 19. However, you might miss some because they are not bright and don’t have a noticeable tail.
For their radiant look for Aquarius the Water Bearer (see a triangle of stars with a fourth star in the middle) between Capricornus and Pegasis’ Great Square.
Next, watch for the Perseids in mid-August. They are already shooting across the sky but will peak about Aug. 13-15 and continue through Aug. 24.
They come from the Swift-Tuttle also are abundant but more easily seen than the Delta Aquarids.
You likely heard the phrase, ‘once in a blue moon.’ It’s about rarity, not color. It’s when one month boasts two full moons. And August 2023 is a prime example.
First, watch for the first full moon, called the Sturgeon Moon, on Aug.1, Peak illumination is 2:32 p.m. Eastern Time, but you should be watching for it after sunset when it’s more visible as it rises in the east.
It is also a Supermoon. Because its orbit brings it close to earth it will appear larger and brighter.
As for its name, it refers to when the Great Lakes’ huge sturgeon are often caught. Menacing looking, it is the North America’s largest fish and is considered prehistoric (136 million years ago) in origin.
For a great Sturgeon exhibit, check out Grand Rapics, MI’s Public Musuem.
The August moon is also called the “Corn” moon by some Native American tribes and many farmers.
Then, look skyward at the end of the month for the second full moon. What we call a “Blue Moon” appears August 30 with peak illumination at 9:36 p.m. ET.
Its appearance late in the month begins the later cycle of monthly full moon dates.
One other full moon note is that the moon will appear full the day before peak illumination and the day after so expect more night lite and picture taking ops.
When do you think summer starts? Is it when school ends or weather turns warm enough to swim outdoors? Or it could be when your local meteorologist announces astronomical summer.
In the Northern Hemisphere the Summer (June) Solstice is June 21 in the year 2023.
Take advantage of the June Solstice, also called the Summer Solstice. It is the longest day and shortest night and this year. So, there is more daylight to work in the yard, take long walks, eat dinner out on the patio or just enjoy summer. Just remember to use sunscreen.
For its meaning, think Latin sol for sun and sistere for standing still. IKt certainly stands still in the Arctic Circle which won’t get dark because the sun won’t set there. Think Midnight Sun.
Earth/Sky, The Farmer’s Almanac and Space explain the long day relates to the sun’s angle to the Equator and is the farthest north of the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere.
NASA explains the long day is due to the tilt of the Earth and has a graphic showing the angle.
Of course, such a momentous time of year has related folklore. Most of those events come under the title Midsummer.
That may sound as a misnomer, but the June Solstice marking the beginning of the season is a starting point that is usually marked a few days later with Midsummer celebrations. It’s when many northern cultures such as Sweden, Finland and Ireland historically celebrated the time with rituals, visits to Stonehenge, and religious occasions.
Maybe hold your own Midsummer celebration. Check Travel Sweden for how they do it and their Midsummer dates.
May 5 is celebrated as a victorious battle day by Mexican communities in the United States. So if in Chicago find a couple of Cinco de Mayo restaurant deals at Dining Out Eating In.
But if wondering why there are “falling stars” overhead or why it’s so bright outside that night, check out the following information.
The Flower Moon
If the sky isn’t particularly cloudy where you live than the evening will seem brighter than usual May 4-6, 2023. May’s full Moon has total illumination in the afternoon of May 5 at 1:36 p.m. EDT but will appear full in the evening of May 4-6. The clue to the name of the May full Moon surrounds us almost everywhere there is a plot of earth.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has the time the moon will be rising above the horizon and setting where you live.
As followers of Travel Smart know by now, the name of a month’s Moon (and yes, it often is referred to the whole month by the same name), often comes from Native American tribes, long ago European farmers and also religions and cultures that base some festivals on lunar events.
May 5-6 is also when to watch for the Eta Aquarids, a meteor shower that typically sends about 50 meteors an hour across the sky. Their parent is 1pHalley which produces two meteor showers during the year.
The May shower is named for a bright star in constellation Eta Aquarli and is the first meteor shower from Comet Halley debris.
Earth passes through Halley’s path around the Sun again in October when its debris is known as the Orionid meteor shower that peaks around October 20.
New Year’s Eve fireworks kept sky watchers engrossed as TV stations moved across the world to different time zones and countries Dec. 31, 2022.
Then nature followed with the Quadrantids meteors. Begun Dec. 28, it peaks pre-dawn Jan. 3 to Jan 4 in 2023. Their “parent” is the Asteroid 2003 EH from the defunct constellation Quadrans Mualis.
They seem to radiate from a point east of Ursa Minor (The Little Dipper) but can be seen anywhere in a clear sky. The problem will be the moon which will be waxing gibbous on its way to full illumination Jan. 6.
Next looking up, is a Mircromoon. Called the Wolf Moon, January’s full moon is considered a Micromoon because it appears smaller due to its orbit which takes it far from Earth (as opposed to a Supermoon which appears large because it is close to Earth).
The January 2023 full moon reaches full illumination at 5 p.m. CST Jan. 6, but will appear full the day before and day after. Some Native Tribes have called it the Wolf Moon because wolves tend to howl more in January.
Unless you are in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly the southern part of South America, the afternoon of April 30 you won’t be seeing a partial solar eclipse live. But you can watch online and you will be getting updates from news channels.
According to Space.com, you can see this solar event on the YouTube channel of the India-based Gyaan ki gareebi Live . It will begin broadcasting the eclipse at 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT).
Of course you know a solar eclipse happens when the moon’s orbit sends the sphere between the sun and earth. You can become more informed on this particular eclipse at Time and Date and at Time and Date’s Partial Solar eclipse coverage.
The partial solar eclipse is also the forerunner of a lunar eclipse happening May 15-16 in both hemispheres. Time and Date has a good map and timetable of the area covered.
In the Chicago area watch the lunar eclipse on May 15th from its very early onset at 8:32 p.m. through May 16 at 12:55 a.m. Chicago’s Adler Planetarium has a good description of what to expect.
For full moon observers, this is the Flower Moon. and yes, it coincides with the lunar eclipse. For more information visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
If that isn’t enough, May also hosts the peak of the Eta Aquarids. The meteorites peak with up to 50 meteorites per hour May 5-6 in 2022 although they have already started. They are named for their radiant (where they seem to emerge) at the constellation Aquarius.
Start seeing what looks like a full moon on Friday. Full moons tend to look full just before their date and the day afterwards.
In 2022, April’s full moon reaches total illumination at 1:55 p.m. EDT on Saturday the 16th and will continue to appear full on Sunday. It is not a SuperMoon. The moon will appear to be larger the morning of April 19 when it will be at its perigee (closest to Earth) at 11:14 EDT.
Known as the Pink Moon, the April full moon derives its name from the season when pink creeping (moss) phlox bloom and not from an atmospheric moon color.
As with other full moon names, it echoes what is happening in nature so other names range from Breaking Ice Moon to Awakening Moon.
March’s full moon, which fell before the Spring Equinox was called the Worm Moon when worms emerge in early Spring.
But the March and April Full Moons can be the Paschal Moon depending on when the full moon falls: before or after the Spring Equinox.
The Paschal Moon is often used to determine the Easter date. So, the moon in March or April can be called the Paschal Moon. Visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac for more information on the Spring Equinox and April Full Moon. Also see Time and Date on How Easter is Determined.
The April full moon is also the Pesach Moon for the Jewish feast of Passover which begins at sundown April 15 and is celebrated with Seders on the first two evenings. Paschal is a Latinized word for Pesach.
Don’t be surprised if a bright light wakes you this weekend. The December full moon rises very high in the sky opposite the sun at 10:36 p.m. CST Dec. 18, 2021. But the shining orb looks full and bright Friday through Monday.
In the eastern part of the northern hemisphere the high moon hour is close enough to midnight to be considered a Sunday full moon. Click Moonrise Calculator for time in your area. You can watch for the full moon just before sunset.
The December full moon has several nicknames such as the Long Night Moon and Full Cold Moon because it comes closest to the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21,2021). It marks the start of winter and is the date with the longest period of darkness. The December full moon also has a very high trajectory so it will be in the sky longer.
Other names are the Yule Moon, Winter Moon, Frost Moon and Oak Moon.