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Final Supermoon of the Year: What to Expect From December’s Supermoon or ‘Cold Moon’

Dec 07, 2016 04:56 AM EST
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The last supermoon for 2016 will illuminate the skies this December. Here’s what to expect from this month’s supermoon and where it can be seen.
(Photo : Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

For those who missed the magnificent supermoon last November, another supermoon is set to appear this December.

This month's supermoon will shine on Dec. 14 near the stars of the constellation Taurus, reports. It will rise around sunset and will set on sunrise, and according to reports, this will be the only night in December when the moon will be in the sky the whole night. For the rest of the month, the moon will spend only a few moments in the night sky

What is a supermoon?

According to NASA, a supermoon is a new or full moon that occurs when the moon is within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. Today, it refers more broadly to a full moon that is closer to Earth than average.

The orbit of the moon is elliptical, where one side (perigee) is about 30,000 miles closer to Earth than the other side (apogee). If the moon is coincidentally on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, a perigee moon - or a supermoon - appears in the sky.

Two supermoons have appeared in the last few months of 2016: one in October and another one in November. The supermoon on Nov. 14 was the closest and brightest since almost 70 years, and the next time the full moon will come this close again will be on Nov. 25, 2034.

December supermoon or "Cold Moon"

The December supermoon will occur one day after the moon reaches perigee - the point in its orbit closest to Earth. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, this month's supermoon is also known as Full Cold Moon, which is associated with the month the winter cold is mostly felt.

It is also called Long Nights Moon by Native American tribes because it occurs near the winter solstice, which is the night with the least amount of daylight.

December's supermoon will be extra special, as it will coincide with the peak of the Geminid meteor shower, NASA said. The light from the supermoon will reduce the visibility of faint meteors five to ten-fold. Stargazers will be lucky enough to see a dozen Geminids per hour during its peak.

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