December’s full Cold Moonrises on the night of Wednesday, December 7, 2022. On this extra-special night, the full Moon occults the planet Mars, obscuring it from view! Learn more about the Cold Moon and what makes it special.
When to See December’s Full Moon
December’s Cold Moon reaches peak illumination on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at 11:09 P.M.EST.
Start looking for the full Moon just before sunset as it begins to peek above the horizon. December’s full Moon has a high trajectory in the sky, which means that it will be above the horizon for longer than most full Moons. To find the exact time that it will appear in your area, consult our Moonrise Calculator.
Mars Occultation: The Cold Moon Meets Mars
On the evening of December 7, the full Moon will meet the planet Mars! In most of North America, we will see the Moon drift very, very closely to Mars and then obscure it entirely. This astronomical event is called a “lunar occultation.”
The show starts only a few hours after sunset, so go out and locate Mars in the sky early in evening so that you can keep an eye on it. Look for a very bright “star” with a reddish glow located to the left or lower left of the Moon.
This occultation will be visible in a large part of North America, Europe, and North Africa. Locations along the Eastern Seaboard, Gulf Coast, Appalachia, and western Alaska will NOT be able to see full occultation, but Mars will still be very close to the 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 peoples 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.
Alternative December Moon Names
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).
This full Moon has also been called the Long Night Moon (Mohican), as it rises during the “longest” nights of the year, which are near the December winter solstice. This name is doubly fitting because December’s full Moon shines above the horizon for a longer period of time than most full Moons.
Other names include Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers (Dakota) and Little Spirit Moon (Anishinaabe).
In Europe, ancient pagans called the December full Moon the “Moon Before Yule,” in honor of the Yuletide festival celebrating the return of the sun heralded by winter solstice.