December’s full moon — called the Full Cold Moon — will rise on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020.

By Elizabeth Rhodes
December 21, 2020
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Bright cometssparkling shooting stars, a rare Halloween blue moon, and breathtaking eclipses have made 2020 an exciting year for stargazers, but it’s not over yet. Rounding out the year is a final full moon — called the Full Cold Moon — which will rise on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020, reaching peak illumination at 10:30 p.m. EST, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  

The full Cold Moon rises behind the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building in New York City on December 12, 2019 as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey.
| Credit: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

You don’t need any special equipment to spot the moon, but if you want to take your backyard stargazing to the next level, consider investing in a telescope or a good pair of binoculars.

Here’s what you should know about the final full moon of 2020. 

Why is it called the Full Cold Moon?

There were 13 full moons in 2020. In order, they were called the Wolf Moon, Snow Moon, Worm Moon, Pink Moon, Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon, Buck Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Corn Moon, Harvest Moon, Hunter’s (or Blue) Moon, Beaver Moon, and Cold Moon, according to Space.com. Different cultures have specific names for each of the full moons throughout the year, but they often relate to what is happening in nature at that time of year. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the names commonly used today draw from Native American and colonial American tradition, and there are alternative names for each moon that other groups use. 

The December full moon name is pretty self-explanatory — it’s called the Cold Moon because this is when the weather turns chilly. It’s also called the Long Night Moon because it occurs near the winter solstice, which is the longest night of the year, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  

When is the next full moon? 

The next full moon — the Full Wolf Moon — will rise on Jan. 28, 2021. Full moons are about 29.5 days apart, so there’s usually just one full moon per month for a total of 12 per year, but sometimes there is a 13th full moon, called the Blue Moon (like we saw this Halloween).