Looking up toward the night sky and seeing a full moon is nothing unusual. What is unusual, however, is seeing a full moon on Christmas Day (Dec. 25), which is a rare occurrence—something that has happened since 1977.
This week’s full moon is referred to as the Full Cold Moon because it signifies the changing seasons, and also because it’s freezing cold in a lot of corners of the world. But it’s even more special this week because it’s not normally full right on Christmas Day. And yet, moon gazers will be able to see the moon at its peak at 6:11 a.m. EST this Friday—miss it, and you won’t see another full moon on Christmas until 2034.
“As we look at the moon on such an occasion, it’s worth remembering that the moon is more than just a celestial neighbor,” said John Keller, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “The geologic history of the moon and Earth are intimately tied together such that the Earth would be a dramatically different planet without the moon.”
It’s nice to know the moon will be lighting a path for Rudolph and Santa’s sleigh this holiday season. It won’t look any different, but it might feel different knowing it’s something that doesn’t happen all that often.