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‘Full Cold Moon’ meets a string of 3 planets Saturday; December 2021 Full Moon

'Full Cold Moon' meets a string of 3 planets Saturday; December 2021 Full Moon

Get ready for the year’s last Full Moon

The last full moon of the year, on Saturday 18th Dec, ushers in the winter constellations, including three naked-eye planets in the evening.

According to reports, the moon will be full at 11:36 p.m. EST on Saturday (0436 on Dec. 19). For New York City residents, the moon will rise at 4:02 p.m. that evening and set at 7:48 a.m. the next morning.

The moon’s position concerning the Earth determines the time of lunar phases; a full moon occurs when the moon is directly opposite Earth from the sun. That means the moment it happens varies depending on the time zone; in the UK, it will happen at 4:36 a.m. on Dec. 19, while it will happen at 6:35 a.m. in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Full Cold Moon is the moniker given to the full moon in December by the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and if you dwell in the Northern Hemisphere’s mid-latitudes, you’ll understand why. According to reports, the sun sets early this time of year, at 4:30 p.m. in New York City on Dec. 18, and the sky darkens by about 5:30 p.m.

The rising full moon will be to the left if one looks towards the southwest around that time on Dec. 18. From southwest to south, three planets, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter, will create a relatively straight line. It will rise at a 45-degree angle to the horizon, with Jupiter at the highest point and Venus at the lowest.

The Northern Hemisphere winter constellations are prominent at this time of year, with the “Dog Star” Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, rising above the horizon at 8 p.m. in New York on Dec. 18, and Orion rising in the southeast. Taurus, the bull, looks to be rushing him from above, while Gemini, the Twins, is to the left of the bull.

Timing and Appearance

Looking north from Gemini, Auriga, the Charioteer, and Capella, the brightest star in the constellation, can be seen. The Big Dipper will be low in the northeast early in the evenings, but it is circumpolar and never sets from anywhere north of Savannah, Georgia, Cairo, or Shanghai.

Summertime in the Southern Hemisphere means the sun sets later, such as at 7:56 p.m. local time in Cape Town on Dec. 19. That nightfall, at 8:29 p.m., the almost full moon rises. By 9 p.m., Canopus, the Ship’s Keel, the brightest star in Carina, is already 42 degrees high in the southeast. As one looks due south, Achernar, the terminus of Eridanus, the River, is high.

Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter form a line in the sky, just as they do in the Northern Hemisphere, but it travels southwest to west from southern latitudes, with Venus only nearly 7 degrees high, Saturn at around 17 degrees, including Jupiter at 29 degrees, as one looks up and then to the right.

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