Full Moon on The Winter Solstice

How Rare is a Solstice Full Moon?

By Randy Miller
December 20, 2018
Moonrise

Since 1793, when the Almanac began tracking heavenly events and seasonal changes, the Moon has been full on the December solstice just ten times. So when will this phenomenon next occur? And how rare is it?

When is the Next Winter Solstice Full Moon?

In 2018, you may be hearing buzz about the winter solstice coinciding with the Full Moon. Here are the facts if you want to be technical about it!

  • The Full Cold Moonwill be visible on the night of the winter solstice (Friday, December 21), however, the full Moon officially rises the next day, December 22, at 12:49 p.m. Eastern Time.
  • That being said, to the average backyard stargazer, the Moon appear full to provide a wonderful show on the 21st, so do keep an eye on the sky that night! 

If the solstice night is calm and cloudless, with the full Moon beaming down on a blanket of snow, it will be irresistibly attractive, and electrical illumination—even your car’s headlights—may seem unnecessary.

How Rare is a Full Moon on the Winter Solstice?

The rarity of a solstitial full Moon—the average interval is about 19 years—reinforces the Moon’s role as a beacon playing on human history.

The next occurrence of a full Moon that rises exactly on the calendar day of the winter solstice is 2094!  

Although our research could not find a correlation between these lunar events and significant historical happenings on similar dates in the past, the combination of astronomical forces certainly affect the tides.

As astronomer Bob Berman explains, during this time of proxigean tides [unusually high tides due to the Moon’s phase and proximity to Earth], coastal flooding could occur if there is one more little extra effect, such as a storm at sea, on-shore winds, or low barometric pressure.

Learn More

Want to learn more about the winter solstice and the Moon? See our related articles:

Source: 

Parts of this article originally appeared in The 1999 Old Farmer's Almanac.

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Reader Comments

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full moon at winter solstice

What is the name for a full moon at the winter solstice?

Solstice

Hard to believe I know, but here in the Southern Hemisphere we won't have to wait until 2094 for our next full moon/winter solstice concurrence. It's all happening tomorrow, June 20th 2016

full moon and solstice

Thank you for pointing that out! We have revised the text to clarify that we were referring to the Northern Hemisphere.
Happy first day of Winter!

 

Thanks for revising the text.

Thanks for revising the text.
Just an FYI, Australian seasons are broken by months - Summer: Dec/Jan/Feb; Autumn: Mar/Apr/May; Winter: June/July/Aug; Spring: Sept/Oct/Nov. And in fact indigenous seasons are different again.