Rare full moon tomorrow comes one day after solstice. Clear skies expected in Birmingham

Photo by: Boris Datnow – Hoover, Alabama

Sky-gazers are giddy today, December 21, 2018, because there are three “cosmic” events happening almost simultaneously –  a cold moon, the Ursid meteor shower and the longest night (winter solstice) of the year.

The cold moon, which is the first full moon after the winter solstice falls this year less than a day after the solstice. The last time the December solstice and full moon happened less than a day apart was in 2010, and the next time will be 2029.

Photo by: Charles Walton – one of our favorite “Supermoon ” pics

The website Earth & Sky aptly describes the significance of this event:

“December 22, 2018, will bring the final full moon of the year, falling less than a day after the December solstice. How close are the solstice and full moon in 2018? The solstice is December 21 at 4:23 p.m. CST (22:23 UTC). The full moon is December 22 at 11:49 a.m. CST (17:49 UTC). So the solstice and full moon fall less than one day apart. That means that – although the Northern Hemisphere has its longest winter night on December 21 – the lamp of a nearly full moon will light up the nighttime from dusk until dawn.”

Ursid meteor shower

Along with the full moon, the  Ursid meteor shower, which began on December 17 and will last until December 24, will peak between December 22 and 23, with up to 10 meteors per hour entering Earth’s atmosphere. While the peak will occur a day after the winter solstice, according to experts, you can still easily see the meteor shower tonight.

For hour by hour instructions on how to watch the meteor shower, head over to TimeandDate.com,

Alabama skies are clearing tonight

Now, what good is all this info if Alabama’s weather continues to be rainy and gray.

Keeping our fingers cross, according to Weather.com, the clouds will begin to lift tonight around 9:00pm,

Screen shot from weather.com of Birmingham, Alabama’s weather conditions the evening of the winter solstice.

As you can see, the skies will be clear in the early morning of the 22nd. The forecast Saturday evening looks even better, with clear skies until after midnight.

Get away from the bright lights

Of course, if you want to see the full moon and possibly the Ursid meteor shower, we recommend escaping Birmingham’s light pollution.

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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