On Wednesday, December 7, the last full moon of 2022 will ascend but why is this full moon so special?
The full moon in December, often known as the “Cold Moon,” begins at 11:09 p.m. ET (4:09 a.m. UTC on December 8). However, the moon will be visible in the sky bright and full from Tuesday, December 6, through Thursday, December 8.
Why is it called the Cold Moon?
Sky spectators in the Northern Hemisphere will have some trouble figuring out why this month’s moon is known as the “Cold” Moon. This moon rises just a few weeks prior the winter solstice (Dec. 21), when it is one of the coldest and darkest nights of the year. The Mohawk tribe, who once inhabited what is now the northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada, is said to be the source of this moon’s name, according to the Maine Farmer’s Almanac, that began publishing Native American names for moons in the 1930s. Since then, the moniker has gained popularity in popular media accounts of the moon’s phases.
Other native names for this occurrence
Drift Clearing Moon (Cree), Frost Exploding Trees Moon (Cree), Moon of the Popping Trees (Oglala), Hoar Frost Moon (Cree), Snow Moon (Haida, Cherokee), and Winter Maker Moon are some more names that refer to the cold and snow (Western Abenaki).
Due to the fact that it rises during the “longest” nights of the year which are close to the December winter solstice, this full Moon is also known as the Long Night Moon (Mohican). The full Moon in December glows above the horizon for a longer amount of time than most full Moons, so this name is particularly appropriate.
It will be a crowded sky!
The red planet will enter a busy night sky that already includes Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. Some areas of North America and Europe also might witness the moon briefly blocking out Mars from Earth’s perspective when it passes in front of the Red Planet. Occultation, or the “lunar occultation of Mars,” is the term used to describe this irregular occurrence, according to Space.com.
Every 687 days, or approximately twice as the time it takes Earth to complete one orbit, Mars completes one around the sun. According to NASA, opposition only occurs around once every 26 months due to the two planets’ distinct orbital periods.
Something else will also be happening with the moon
However, there is much more going on with the moon: Mars will be opposite to Earth overnight, from December 7 to December 8, which means it will be on the other side of the planet from the sun. In other words, exactly like the Sun, Earth, and moon do during a full moon, the Earth, Mars, and the Sun will all line up on an unseen 180-degree line. The fact that both bodies are orbiting the same side of the Earth allows for the moon occultation of Mars.
The moon will occult Mars at opposition on December 7 at 11:00 p.m. ET via a livestream provided by The Virtual Telescope Project (4:00 a.m. UTC on Dec. 8). The stream is accessible through the project’s Channel on youtube
Where to view the lunar eclipse over Mars
In addition, the moon will occult Mars for everyone who lives north and west of an approximate line connecting Piedras Negras, Mexico, Louisville, Kentucky, and Seabrook, New Hampshire. Consult the US map. To the south and east of this line, though, the moon will completely miss the planet, passing just over it (called an appulse).
However, for a lucky observer situated precisely on, or just outside of that line — it’s actually a small corridor around 21 miles (34 km) wide – the lower part of the moon will seem to touch Mars as it goes by.
For those lucky enough to be located around the northern edge, the planet’s brilliant topaz disc may seem to vanish entirely before intermittently reappearing in lunar valleys. On the other hand, Mars’ northern edge will only touch the moon’s limb very briefly along the southern edge of the route.
Morgantown, WV, Scranton, PA, Hudson, NY, Northampton, MA, Lowell, MA, and Seabrook, NH are just a few of the towns and communities that are situated along the trail. Consult Mars occultation graze path maps for more information
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