FULL MOON FOR DECEMBER 2020
BUNDLE UP FOR DECEMBER’S FULL COLD MOON!
The Old Farmer’s Almanac
By The Editors
November 29, 2020
December’s Cold Moon reaches peak illumination on Tuesday, December 29, 2020, at 10:30 P.M. EST.
Start looking for the full Moon just before sunset as it begins to peek above the horizon. To find the exact time that it will appear in your area, consult our Moonrise Calculator.
What makes this full Moon special? It’s most distinctive for its high trajectory across the sky, which results in the full Moon sitting above the horizon for a longer period of time.
WHY IS IT CALLED THE COLD MOON?
The Moon names we use in The Old Farmer’s Almanac come from Native American, Colonial American, or other traditional sources passed down through generations. A variety of Native American societies traditionally used the monthly Moons and nature’s corresponding signs as a calendar to track the seasons.
Today, December’s full Moon is most commonly known as the Cold Moon—a Mohawk name that conveys the frigid conditions of this time of year, when cold weather truly begins to grip us.
Other names that allude to the cold and snow include Drift Clearing Moon (Cree), Frost Exploding Trees Moon (Cree), Moon of the Popping Trees (Oglala), Hoar Frost Moon (Cree), Snow Moon (Haida, Cherokee), and Winter Maker Moon (Western Abenaki).
Saturn, top, and Jupiter, below, are seen after sunset from Shenandoah National Park, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Luray, Virginia. The two planets are drawing closer to each other in the sky as they head towards a “great conjunction” on December 21, where the two giant planets will appear a tenth of a degree apart.
Credits: NASA/ Bill Ingalls
The ‘Great’ Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
Skywatchers are in for an end-of-year treat. What has become known popularly as the “Christmas Star” is an especially vibrant planetary conjunction easily visible in the evening sky over the next two weeks as the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn come together, culminating on the night of Dec. 21.
In 1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope to the night sky, discovering the four moons of Jupiter – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. In that same year, Galileo also discovered a strange oval surrounding Saturn, which later observations determined to be its rings. These discoveries changed how people understood the far reaches of our solar system.
Thirteen years later, in 1623, the solar system’s two giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn, traveled together across the sky. Jupiter caught up to and passed Saturn, in an astronomical event known as a “Great Conjunction.”
“You can imagine the solar system to be a racetrack, with each of the planets as a runner in their own lane and the Earth toward the center of the stadium,” said Henry Throop, astronomer[sic] in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “From our vantage point, we’ll be able to be to see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21.”
The planets regularly appear to pass each other in the solar system, with the positions of Jupiter and Saturn being aligned in the sky about once every 20 years.
What makes this year’s spectacle so rare, then? It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this “great conjunction.”
The closest alignment will appear just a tenth of a degree apart and last for a few days. On the 21st, they will appear so close that a pinkie finger at arm’s length will easily cover both planets in the sky. The planets will be easy to see with the unaided eye by looking toward the southwest just after sunset.
From our vantage point on Earth the huge gas giants will appear very close together, but they will remain hundreds of millions of miles apart in space. And while the conjunction is happening on the same day as the winter solstice, the timing is merely a coincidence, based on the orbits of the planets and the tilt of the Earth.
“Conjunctions like this could happen on any day of the year, depending on where the planets are in their orbits,” said Throop. “The date of the conjunction is determined by the positions of Jupiter, Saturn, and the Earth in their paths around the Sun, while the date of the solstice is determined by the tilt of Earth’s axis. The solstice is the longest night of the year, so this rare coincidence will give people a great chance to go outside and see the solar system.”
Want to learn when and where to look up? Join Throop as he talks about the “Great Conjunction” on #NASAScience Live Thursday, Dec. 17. Submit your questions by using #askNASA. The NASA Science Live episode will air live at 3 p.m. EST Thursday on NASA Television and the agency’s website, along with the NASA Facebook, YouTube, and Periscope channels.
For those who would like to see this phenomenon for themselves, here’s what to do:
Find a spot with an unobstructed view of the sky, such as a field or park. Jupiter and Saturn are bright, so they can be seen even from most cities.
An hour after sunset, look to the southwestern sky. Jupiter will look like a bright star and be easily visible. Saturn will be slightly fainter and will appear slightly above and to the left of Jupiter until December 21, when Jupiter will overtake it and they will reverse positions in the sky.
The planets can be seen with the unaided eye, but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.
Each night, the two planets will appear closer low in the southwest in the hour after sunset as illustrated in the below graphic:
A longtime leader for the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas, the Plaza Hotel & Casino announced plans to continue to transform its corridor of Main Street by redeveloping the building that currently houses the Greyhound bus terminal into a new destination that enhances the offerings and ambiance of Main Street.
According to Plaza Hotel & Casino CEO Jonathan Jossel, the Plaza will also partner with the city of Las Vegas to build a pedestrian friendly pathway that leads to a new elevated bridge connecting the hotel-casino on Main Street to Symphony Park.
“We are thrilled to partner with Jonathan and our friends at the Plaza Hotel to link together two vibrant areas of our downtown,” said Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman, city of Las Vegas. “This connection will further enhance the vibrancy of downtown, including the Plaza and Symphony Park, by making the area more walkable. It’s exciting and gratifying to see downtown’s revitalization continue thanks to public-private partnerships like those with the Plaza.”
The Greyhound bus terminal will be vacated by mid-2021, and the Plaza has already begun discussions with developers on possible projects for the space. With 48,500 sq. ft. and adjacent parking, the building is a prime location for new dining, entertainment or retail that will transform the area, encouraging visitors to walk up and down Main Street and experience all it has to offer.
“We are very excited to usher in this new era on Main Street,” said Jossel. “Main Street is where downtown started, and today, it remains the heart of downtown, connecting a thriving Arts District, a state-of-the-art city hall, popular destinations like the Plaza, Fremont Street Experience, our newest neighbor Circa, and much more. The Plaza is proud to have held the 1 Main Street address for nearly 50 years. With Greyhound relocating, we look forward to transforming the bus station into a new, dynamic downtown destination that will improve the ambiance and sense of community on Main Street. And with Symphony Park achieving its vision as a hub of residential, commercial, and cultural offerings, enhanced connectivity to it will bolster Main Street and downtown overall.”
“Begin the Beguine” is a popular song written by Cole Porter. Porter composed the song between Kalabahi, Indonesia, and Fiji during a 1935 Pacific cruise aboard Cunard’s ocean liner Franconia. In October 1935, it was introduced by June Knight in the Broadway musical Jubilee, produced at the Imperial Theatre in New York City. Beguine is a dance and music form, similar to a slow rhumba.
The last part of the song – after a slow buildup – kicks A$$ like no other. WC LasVegasBuffetClub
“The beguine is a dance and music form, similar to a slow rhumba. It was popular in the 1930s, coming from the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, where in local Creole Beke or Begue means a White person, and Beguine is the female form.” WIKI