The rising Full Moon near the Winter Solstice. (Source: Old Farmer's Almanac)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
The smallest Full Moon of 2013 occurs on Tuesday Morning, 2013 December 17 at 4:28 a.m. EST (9:28 Coordinated Universal Time). It is the smallest Full Moon as the Moon is at the apogee point in its orbit, the point farthest from the Earth, only two days later: 2013 December 19, 7:00 p.m. EST (December 20, 0:00 Coordinated Universal Time) - distance from Earth to the Moon: 406,269 kilometers.
The December Full Moon was known to native Americans as the Cold Moon or the Long Nights Moon, and sometimes also referred to as the Moon Before Yule. Other names given to the December Full Moon have been reported by the Farmers' Almanac (Oak Moon) and The American Boy's Book of Signs, Signals and Symbols published in 1918 for use by the Boy Scouts (Wolves Moon and Big Moon).
Of course Cold Moon refers to the cold temperatures that begin with the start of the Winter season this month. And, the Moon Before Yule was used by the Christian settlers to refer to the Full Moon before Christmas Day (Yule being an early religious festival observed by Germanic peoples, later absorbed and equated with Christmas); of course, this name would not be used during years when the December Full Moon is after Christmas Day.
With the longest night of the year occurring near the Winter Solstice, this justifies the term Long Nights Moon, as the Full Moon is visible all-night long. And, this month's Moon is high in the Northern Hemisphere sky, as this is the time of the year that the Sun is the lowest in the sky; traveling high in the sky also means it stays in the sky longer.
With this year's Full Moon being the smallest of the year, of course the term Big Moon would not be appropriate. However, a couple centuries ago, when night artificial lighting had little effect and the December Full Moon brightened a snowy field, one might see how some people may refer to this as a Big Moon.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the December Full Moon is known as the Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon, and Rose Moon.
More on the Full Moon: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon
More on Full Moon names ---
Link 1 >>> http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/full-moon-names
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon#Harvest_and_Hunter.27s_moons
Link 3 >>> http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/
Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
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