JACKSON, Wyo. — Decembers full moon will reach full illumination tonight in Jackson Hole at 8:28 p.m. This full moon is unique because of its high trajectory across the sky, which results in the full moon sitting above the horizon for a long period of time. The December full moon is the longest of the year, rising before sunset and setting just after sunrise.
December’s full moon is commonly known as the “Cold Moon,” named by the Mohawk tribes, a nod to the freezing temperatures that begin to set in this time of year. The Cold Moon is ringing true here in Jackson, temperatures have dipped below freezing the past few days. Today’s temperatures are forecasted at a high of 10 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of -8 degrees Fahrenheit.
December’s full moon has a variety of other names coined by Native Americans, Colonial Americans, and Europeans.
Many Native American societies used the moon phases to track the seasons. Other names referring to the cold and snow include “Drift Clearing Moon,” “Exploding Trees Moon” and “Hoar Frost Moon,” all named by the Cree peoples. Cherokee and Haida nations called December’s moon the Snow Moon. Western Abenaki called it the “Winter Maker Moon.” The Algonquin tribes named December’s full moon the “Wolf Moon” after the hungry howling wolf packs roaming through the snow.
The Mohican name, the “Long Night Moon,” refers to the long nights surrounding the winter solstice and Decembers full moon shining above the horizon for a longer than other full moons. Ancient pagans called December’s full moon the “Moon Before Yule” referring to the Yuletide festival celebrating the winter solstice.