The final full moon of the year rises tonight to cap a year of amazing lunar sky shows. (Photos -Video)

While the bright moon will easily outshine other celestial objects, there is more than meets the eye to Earth's nearest neighbor.

The December full moon is also called the "long-night's moon" since it is the closest full moon to the northern winter solstice (when the nights are longest). And indeed tonight's full moon will be visible for the longest amount of time.

From New York for instance, moonrise on Thursday (Dec. 27) occurred at 4:17 p.m. EST and the moon sets at 7:12 a.m. this morning. So the full moon will indeed be in the sky for a long time: 14 hours and 55 minutes.

Lunar cycles

Here are some interesting lunar calendar facts that the famed Belgian astronomical calculator Jean Meeus has compiled concerning the phases of the moon:

All are cyclical, the most noteworthy being the so-called Metonic Cycle that was independently discovered by the Greek astronomer Meton (born about 460 B.C.). This is a 19-year cycle, after which time the phases of the moon are repeated on the same days of the year, or approximately so.

Take, for instance, Friday’s full moon. Nineteen years from now, in 2031, there’ll be another full moon on Dec.28.

Another moon cycle fact: After 2 years, the preceding lunar phase occurs on or very nearly the same calendar date. So in 2014, it will be the first quarter moon that occurs on Dec. 28.

After 8 years, the same lunar phases repeat, but occurring one or two days later in the year. Ancient Greek astronomers called this 8-year cycle the "octaeteris." Indeed, in 2020, a full moon occurs on Dec. 29.

Finally, in our Gregorian Calendar, 372 years provides an excellent long period cycle for the recurrence of a particular phase on a given date. Therefore, we know with absolute certainty that the same full moon that shines down on us on Dec. 28 of 2012 will also be shining on Dec. 28 in the year 2384.

So mark your lunar calendars and enjoy tonight's lunar display! (Source)


Native American Names For December Full Moon

Kaitvitjuitk (Inuit).
Cold Moon (Celtic).
Night Moon (Taos).
Respect Moon (Hopi).
Peach Moon (Choctaw).
Twelfth Moon (Dakotah).
Big Winter Moon (Creek).
Real Goose Moon (Kiowa).
Cold Time Moon (Mohawk).
Ashes Fire Moon (San Juan).
Big BearĂ¢ Moon (Winnebago).
Popping Trees Moon (Arapaho).
Running Wolves Moon (Cheyenne).
Frost Fish Moon (Passamaquoddy).
Cold Moon, Long Nights Moon (Algonquin).
Snow Moon, Before Yule Moon (Cherokee).
Oak Moon : Full, : Snow Moon Dark (Janic).
Popping Tress Moon, Deer Horn Shedding Moon (Sioux).

Other moon names : Wolf Moon, Turning Moon, Heavy Snow Moon, Aerra Geola, Under Burn Moon, Big Winter Moon, Winter Maker Moon, Yellow Leaves Moon, Little Finger Moon, Mid-Winter Moon, Wintermonat, Small Spirits Moon.Bitter Moon (Chinese). Oak Moon (Medieval English). Long Night Moon (Neo-Pagan).

VIDEO December Full Moon 2012

Responses to "Full Moon Tonight: Facts About 2012's Last Lunar Show"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am Choctaw and have never known a thing about my roots. Can someone please help to inform me? I would really like to know where I came from but all except for my brother and myself, all who are of Choctaw descent,in my family, have passed away. So resources are limited.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wrote the previous comment about Choctaw roots. Please reply to Angie Angel. Thank you.

  3. is a good start

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nogai friendly wolf moon.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The full moon gave me a sense, "WOW I can amost reach out and touch it." The rays of light, the playfulness of the clouds. AWESOME, very moving.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Watch it for real is the best way . . . Over the Snowdonia hills (UK)

  7. Anonymous says:

    did you happen to notice towards the end of the video when the moon is rising and brighter there is a man on a horse it starts appearing at 3:37 seconds on the right lower corner of the moon. I wouldn't say it is the end of the trail but it certainly is something. Great footage. I am Iroquois Indian, Oneida Nation wolf clan

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