Rare moon to light up skies on Christmas

By Linda Weiford, WSU News

Christmas-moon-detailPULLMAN, WASH. – A brilliant moon should be all that Rudolf needs to guide Santa’s sleigh over the Pacific Northwest this Christmas. For the first time in almost four decades, a full moon will hang high in the sky, making the landscape glow – especially where there is snow.

“Not only will the moon be full, but it also will be directly overhead. With a break in cloud cover, it should make for impressive viewing,” said Guy Worthey, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Washington State University.

The last full moon on Christmas was in 1977 and the next won’t appear until 2034, he said.

Christmas card depicts Santa’s sleigh and full moon. (Photo from Clipartpal.com)

Also called a yuletide moon, it occurs when days are shortest and nights longest. This year it will start on Christmas Eve and peak on Christmas morning at 3:11 a.m. PST.

In other words, the moon will light Santa’s way as he makes gift deliveries with his team of reindeer.

“It will track high in the sky and be out all night,” said Worthey. “Think of it as a present that people won’t have to unwrap.”



Linda Weiford, WSU News, 509-335-7209, linda.weiford@wsu.edu