Full moon, meteor shower to make 2018 winter solstice extra special


NEW YORK (CNN/WAVY) — Despite the fact that many areas of the country have already experienced wintry weather recently, Friday is the first official day of winter.

The official start of winter — Dec. 21 — is the Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year. 

The weather lately in Hampton Roads has been warmer than normal and rainy, but that is expected to change over the weekend. More seasonable temperatures will be felt across the region through Christmas Day.

The solstice this year will be extra special because it will be followed the next day by a full moon known as the Cold Moon, and you might be able to see a meteor shower to boot.


The last full moon of the year will come less than a day after the solstice. 

However, when you’re looking out into a clear sky on Friday night, the moon will appear full to you — and could be so bright that people with pretty good eyesight could read by it.

Over many centuries, this moon has been called several names: Cold Moon, Cold Full Moon, Long Night Moon (by some Native American tribes) or the Moon Before Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon lunar calendar).

If you’re wondering how special this Cold Moon is so close to the solstice, it will be 2029 before it happens again. So it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime event, but still, you don’t see this too often.


The annual Ursids meteor shower is expected to peak a day or two after the solstice.

The website in-the-sky.org has a feature to help you figure out where to watch and how many meteors you might see. For instance, people in South Florida might expect just three per hour while people in Juneau, Alaska, might expect seven per hour.

According to the site, stargazers across Hampton Roads are expected to be able to see between four and 10 meteors per hour. 

One caveat: That Cold Moon will be so bright that it could outshine some of the meteors as they streak in, making them harder to spot.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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