For the first time in 38 years, Christmas falls on a full moon, so Santa-watching expeditions on Christmas Eve should be well lit.
The last full moon of the year is called a “Full Cold Moon” because it occurs at the start of winter. The cosmic phenomena only happens on Christmas once every 19 years. The last full moon on the holiday was on 25 December, 1977, ironically the same day Luke SkyWalker and Han Solo were fighting storm troopers in the original Star Wars movie. The next full Christmas moon is due in 2034, which gives plenty of time for a future Star Wars reboot.
According to NASA the full moon will peak at 11:11 PM GMT and will reach its peak size in the U.S. at 6:11 a.m. ET, Christmas morning. In a statement by NASA who has a long history of Moon watching, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is currently orbiting our moon and has been investigating the lunar surface since 2009.
“As we look at the moon on such an occasion, it’s worth remembering that the moon is more than just a celestial neighbor,” said John Keller, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The geologic history of the moon and Earth are intimately tied together such that the Earth would be a dramatically different planet without the moon.”
Featured image via Dylan O’Donnell