The last full moon of 2022 will be on Wednesday, December 7. It will appear full for several nights in a row and is widely known as the Cold Moon. It comes to us just two weeks before the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
Another name for December’s moon is the Long Night’s Full Moon. It’s fitting because the year’s longest night occurs on December 21, 2022. We call it the winter solstice, marking the first day of winter.
Some cultures associated the winter solstice with the coming of evil spirits. One remedy for this was to stay warm inside, eating, drinking, and entertaining with close friends until the danger passed. Not a bad idea!
Did you know that the moon travels across the sky higher at different times of the year? It does the opposite of the sun. The moon will be high if the sun is low in the sky. After rising, December’s full moon goes almost directly overhead. It remains above the horizon for longer than most other full moons of the year.
2022 has been quite a year of full moons. Was it only a couple of weeks ago that I stayed up for the night launch of Artemis 1? It was worth losing a little sleep to say that I saw that much-anticipated rocket head into space.
By November 28, the Artemis explorer spacecraft, Orion, went further into space than any other vehicle designed for human flight. It surpassed a distance record set by Apollo 11 back in 1969. It was more than 270,000 miles away from Earth!
On December 5, Orion will make a final flyby of the moon and start on a five-day journey back home. It will take a last look at our Cold Full Moon on the way back to Earth.
On December 11, Orion is set to return to Earth. The spacecraft will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego. It’s to be retrieved by the Navy amphibious transport USS Portland.
December should end with some dark, starry, and beautiful skies. The Last Quarter Moon will appear on December 29. It will slip below the horizon around midnight, leaving a cold winter night behind and bringing on anticipation of a New Year ahead.