12-21-10...8:58p...The Full Cold Moon, month of the coldest, longest, darkest nights. On occasion, this moon was also called the Moon before Yule. December is also the month the winter cold fastens its grip. Sometimes this moon is referred to as the Full Long Nights Moon and the term "Long Night" Moon is a very appropriate name because the nights are now indeed long and the Moon is above the horizon a long time. This particular full moon makes its highest arc across the sky because it's diametrically opposite to the low Sun. In fact, the moment of the Winter Solstice comes just over 15 hours after this full moon, at 6:38 p.m. EST.
Last, but certainly not least, this will also be the night of a Total Lunar Eclipse. North Americans will have a ringside seat for this event (totality will last 73-minutes) and, depending on your location, will take place either during the middle of the night or during the predawn hours. Observers in Western Europe and western Africa will see the opening stages of the eclipse before the Moon sets; South Americans will see the Moon set either during the total phase or as the Moon emerges from the shadow. At mid-eclipse, the Moon will appear almost directly overhead for observers in southern California and Baja Mexico.
Today was first day of the Winter Solstice too...the shortest day of the year. [PC211088]