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When and where to see tonight's Cold Moon, the longest and last full moon of 2023

The longest — and last — full moon of the year appeared on Monday night and will peak on Tuesday.

December's full moon, also known as the Cold Moon and Long Night Moon, will reach peak illumination at 7:33 p.m. ET on Tuesday, according to NASA. It will look like a full moon until Thursday morning. The Old Farmer's Almanac details specific moonrise times for different ZIP codes across the United States. 

To view the full moon, it's not rocket science: NASA recommends going outside and looking up at the sky. Using a telescope or binoculars will magnify the moon and clarify details on its surface. Local forecasts have detailed information on how clear the night sky will be in different locations where people are keeping an eye out for the moon.

Where does December's full moon get its name from?

December's full moon gets its Cold Moon moniker from Mohawk traditions, according to the Farmer's Almanac. The name is based on the frigid conditions of the time of year. 

Italy Daily Life 2023
The last full moon of 2023, the Cold Moon, seen from Catania, Italy.  Fabrizio Villa / Getty Images

The full moon is also called the Long Night Moon because December's full moon occurs near the winter solstice, which has the longest night of the year. This year's solstice was on Dec. 21.

"The full moon takes a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite to the low sun, so the moon will be above the horizon longer than at other times of the year," according to NASA.

Other names for December's full moon include Drift Clearing Moon, Frost Exploding Trees Moon, Moon of the Popping Trees, Hoar Frost Moon, Snow Moon, Winter Maker Moon, Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers and Little Spirit Moon, according to the Farmer's Almanac. Ancient pagans in Europe called the December full Moon the Moon Before Yule.

"No matter the name, we're a big fan," NASA said Tuesday on one of its social media accounts.

Next month's full moon is dubbed the Wolf Moon. It will peak on Jan. 25.

First Full Wolf Moon of 2023 in El Salvador
Known as the "Wolf Moon", this full Moon is the first that occurs after the Winter Solstice, in the northern hemisphere, where the nights are still very long, or summer, in the southern hemisphere. Alex Pena/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Is the moon ever full on Christmas?

December's full moon does fall on Christmas sometimes, but it's a rare occasion. The last full moon to peak on Christmas was in 2015. Before that, there hadn't been one since 1977. 

Astronomers say the next Christmas full moon won't be until 2034.

A bright full moon lights up the Yuletide sky of December 25
A bright full moon on lights up the Yuletide sky of Dec. 25, 2015. It was the first time in 38 years that a full moon fell on Christmas. It won't happen again until 2034. Sherbien Dacalanio/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
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