The final full moon of 2021 will make its appearance in the NW Arkansas/River Valley sky tonight. Here is what you need to know about the Full Cold Moon.
December’s full moon is nicknamed the “Full Cold Moon” because of the cold weather that usually accompanies this time of year. The nickname itself is from the Mohawk tribe according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Some other nicknames the Old Farmer’s Almanac mentions for the December full moon include:
- Drift Clearing Moon (Cree)
- Frost Exploding Trees Moon (Cree)
- Moon of the Popping Trees (Oglala)
- Hoar Frost Moon (Cree)
- Snow Moon (Haida & Cherokee)
- Winter Maker Moon (Western Abenaki)
- Long Night Moon (Mohican)
- Moon When The Deer Shed Their Antlers (Dakota)
- Little Spirit Moon (Anishinaabe)
The moon will reach its peak illumination Saturday night, December 18 at 10:37 P.M. CST.
Our full moon this month is also called a “Micromoon” which is the opposite of a Supermoon. Just like the Earth’s orbit around the sun, the moon’s orbit around the Earth is an ellipse. When the moon reaches its farthest distance from Earth, we call it apogee. The closest distance to the moon from Earth in its orbit is called perigee.
Apogee and perigee each happen once during the moon’s orbital rotation around the Earth, about once every 27.3 days from the previous apogee or perigee respectively. December’s full moon will occur during the apogee phase of the moon’s orbit, but it also happens to be the farthest out of all the apogees of the year. The extra distance will make the moon appear slightly smaller to the naked eye, hence the “Micromoon” nickname.
Unfortunately, viewing conditions for the Cold Moon this year isn’t the best due to the cloud cover we have tonight. It will be living up to its name though! Overnight temperatures in NW Arkansas and the River Valley will be in the 20s with a few of the coldest spots dropping into the upper teens.
Clouds will begin to decrease overnight, so you will have improving sky conditions the longer you stay up tonight. Keep in mind though, that means the colder it will be too as temperatures will continue to drop until sunrise Sunday morning.