The last Full Moon of 2012 falls on the 28th at 5:21 am Eastern Standard Time. December’s Full Moon is variously known as the Cold Moon, Ice Moon, or Long Night Moon. The latter is particularly appropriate as we are just beginning to enter the time when the nights gradually begin to shorten after the winter solstice. Fortunately, Luna serves as our night-long companion to shed her pale light on the winter landscape as she reaches her highest declination for the year. On the evening of the 26th look for the Moon between the stars that mark the “horns” of Taurus, the Bull. By New Year’s Eve she has drifted to the east, rising just before Regulus, lead star of Leo, the Lion.
If you’ve been paying attention to the times of local sunset over the past week or two you will have noticed that the time of sunset has been gradually getting later. Our earliest sunsets occurred back on December 7, and by New Year’s Eve Old Sol will dip below the horizon some 10 minutes later than he did back then. However, the total length of day is still just one minute longer than it was at the solstice as the week begins, so what’s going on? The answer lies in noting the time of the latest sunrise, which is still getting later each morning and will continue to do so until January 4th. Once we’ve passed this marker the darkest days of the year will truly be behind us.
By Geoff Gaherty updated 12/26/2012
The last full moon of 2012 will rise into the night sky this week in a year-ending lunar treat.
The full moon is actually an instantaneous event when the moon is exactly opposite the sun in the Earth’s sky, and this month that occurs on Friday morning, Dec. 28, at 5:21 a.m. EST (1021 GMT). But, to the naked eye, the moon “looks” full for a couple of days on either side of that time, so the exact date doesn’t matter