The Full Moon at Winter Solstice

Randy Miller

Since 1793, when The Old Farmer’s Almanac began tracking heavenly events and seasonal changes, the Moon has been full on the winter solstice just ten times in the Northern Hemisphere. The next occurrence will be in 2094.

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. 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.

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 superfluous.

* We did find that on the night of December 21, 1866, the Lakota Sioux staged a devastating retaliatory ambush of soldiers in the Wyoming Territory—perhaps planning the attack for that bright night.


The 1999 Old Farmer's Almanac

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full moon at winter solstice

What is the name for a full moon at the winter 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.