Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Super Cold Moon

A brilliant full moon is rising in the east this evening.  By tradition, the December full moon is called the Cold Moon (or the Long Nights Moon) since winter is beginning and the winter solstice occurs in this month.

This year, the Cold Moon is also a Super Moon; the latter term refers to full moons that occur when the moon is closest to the Earth and thus appear larger than usual.  Since the moon's orbit around our planet is oval in shape, its distance from Earth varies through the year; super moons are about 16,000 miles closer than the average distance.  Tonight's Super Moon is the only one to have occurred in 2017 but the next full moon, in January, 2018, will also be a super moon.

Regardless of its monthly title and distance from the Earth, full moons are always beautiful, especially on clear nights.  Perhaps their glory peaks in winter, when moon shadows stretch across snowy landscapes; our chance for such an event may be as soon as tomorrow night since snow is forecast by morning along the Colorado Front Range.