Cold Moon

Maybe this is a quiet year for the War on Christmas. This piece was linked on

Santa may not need Rudolph’s bright nose to guide his sleigh this year. That’s because the full moon will shine brightly Christmas morning.

I remember another year when I was still awake at 3:11am local time, wrapping a few last minute presents as Santa’s assistant after getting home from Midnight Mass.

How rare is a full moon on Christmas? It hasn’t happened since 1977 and the next one won’t occur again until 2034.

On average, once every 29.5 years–the number of days in between each full moon. The real rarity is full moon on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. 1977 was close with a
Black Friday full moon. (Did they call it black in 1977?) On average: once in two centuries, when a full moon Christmas falls on Friday or Saturday, and the timing is right.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Astronomy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cold Moon

  1. Liam says:

    I’ve probably bleated about this here before, but I like to encourage people to notice natural events that stare them in the eye but that they typically ignore.

    Consider the path of the sun (the solar path) in the middle latitudes at the summer solstice: the rising point of the sun along the horizon (azimuth) is in the northeast, and the sunset azimuth is in the northwest, in each case further towards the north the closer you are to the polar circle, and the sun’s noon zenith angle is the highest of the year. Meanwhile, the path of the full moon the occurs closest to the summer solstice has moonrise and moonset azimuths in the southeast and southwest, and the lowest midnight zenith angle of the year.

    At the winter solstice, this is in mirror image. The full moon nearest the solstice has a path similar to that of the sun at the summer solstice. When the air is clear and cold, the light of the stars and planets and moon seems especially bright compare to that of the summer. The new moon phases of the winter are very long, dark nights, but the full moon phases are ameliorated considerably by the lunar path (and reflection from any snow on the ground and bare deciduous trees).

  2. Devin says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I will have to check it out on Christmas!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s