When is the full moon in December 2022? What Cold Moon in Gemini means, will Mars ‘disappear’ from UK skies
Keen amateur astromomers will get the chance to witness a rare sight as Mars passes behind the moon on Thursday morning
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A truly magnificent astronomical event will be visible from earth this week - and you won’t even need a telescope. Many amateur astronomers will be looking forward to seeing occultation - when Mars travels behind the moon.
The so-called ‘red’ planet will completely disappear behind the moon during the period. However, those keen to catch a glimpse will be looking at an extremely early start to the day.
The occultation comes as Mars also finds itself in opposition. This only happened every 26 months and sees the fourth planet at it biggest and brightest in the nighttime sky.
The full moon - or ‘cold moon’ - this month finds itself in Gemini. Stargazers are still to behold the sight of December’s full moon.
But what does this all mean - and what time should you set your alarm to spot the moon in occultation? Here’s everything you need to know.
When is December’s full moon?
December’s full moon will coincide with the occultation periof. As the moon covers Mars, stargazers will not only be awaiting the re-appearance of Mars, but also the bright, full moon on display.
The last full moon of the year is also known as a ‘cold moon’. While this is named to link it to the winter month, the ‘cold moon’ is also stark in the often pitch-black December skies.
The light from the full moon may not shine any brighter than any other time of year, but because of the darkness and often stillness around it in the final month of the year, it can appear to outshine others from months gone. Therefore, spotting a cold moon is fairly easy without any specalist equipment if skies are clear.
What time will Mars ‘disappear’?
Along with the cold moon, those searching the starry skies at night will also be in for a rare treat as the moon travels in front of Mars. Occultation - stemming from the Latin word ‘occult’ which translates to ‘hidden’ - will take place in early morning on Thursday 8 December.
Initally, the moon will travel closer and closer to Mars throughout Wednesday evening. To catch the full occultation, you will have to be awake for around 4.58am in the UK.
Specific times for areas could vary depending on the place you are viewing the sky from. Mars is expected to be hidden by the moon for around an hour before it reappears against shortly before 6am.