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First day of winter will have full moon and meteor shower

The winter solstice is this Friday and it coincides with a both a full moon and meteor shower this year.
December 19, 2018 - 3:30 PM

The shortest day of the year comes with some reasons to look up into the night sky. This year’s winter solstice on Friday, Dec. 21 will feature a full moon, a meteor shower and the conjunction of the planets Mercury and Jupiter.

NASA’s Watch the Skies blog says the full moon at this time of year, known as the Cold Moon or Long Night Moon, was so named by native Americans who marked December’s moon as the beginning of the coldest part of the year. The Haida First Nation's people along B.C.’s coast called December’s full moon the Snow Moon or Ta’aaw Kungaay.

The full moon doesn’t coincide perfectly with the winter solstice, as the peak full moon occurs Dec. 22, but to a person viewing the moon it will appear to be full.

December’s full moon will be above the horizon longer than at other times of the year because of the high trajectory it takes across the sky while opposite the low sun.

A full moon coincident with the first day of winter is a rare event - it last happened in 2010 and won’t reoccur until 2094.

The planets Mercury and Jupiter are also in conjunction with each other in the night sky on Dec. 21, along with the Ursid meteor shower, expected to peak on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, according to

If you are thinking about taking some night sky photos, go here for a quick guide to help you get more out of your photos.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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