December’s Super Full Moon of Respect

Welcome December Full Moon!

Welcome to Issue 12 of Volume VIII of Earth, Moon and Stars!

(click any of these section links)


   If you’re new here and would like to learn first more about what we’re up to, click on Me to You to jump to my Intro section. (There’s a link there that will take you back to the above table of contents when you are ready.)


   The moon will become technically full Wednesday December 14 at 00:06 UT
, correspondingly earlier in time zones west of the Prime Meridian, later in time zones to the east. (See my December 2014 issue for some clarification about UT-Universal Time.)

  Because technical fullness will occur this time just a few minutes after midnight at the Prime Meridian, Ms. Luna will appear fullest on Tuesday night almost everywhere on Earth. Folks just west of the International Date Line (Philippines, Australia, etc.) will get an approximately equal show Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Check Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones.

   In these trying times, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the Hopi name for this full moon: Respect. Check out Moon Names for the full story and a pic.

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   The last in the current trifecta of “super” moons. Check out the Skywatch section for the details.

   The Star of Bethlehem may not have been an actual star. Check out the Starwatch section for the details.

   In this next installment of my new personal opinion section Just Sayin’, I continue the theme of All of Us with another song from the sixties that fits right in with this month’s theme.

  Astrologers Æterna and Molly Hall offer us insight at this full moon in Gemini in Astrology. 

  In continuation of our new Humor section, fear strikes Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) as he and Hobbes read his latest horoscope.

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Moon Dates and Times

December’s full moon    Wednesday Dec 14 00:06 UT; 2:06 am IST; 8:06 am AWST/PHT; 11:06 am AEDT
.                                            Tuesday Dec 13  7:06 pm EST; 4:06 pm PST; 2:06 pm HAST

December Solstice           Tuesday Dec 22  04:49 UT; 2:06 am IST; 8:06 am AWST/PHT; 11:06 am AEDT
.                                            Monday Dec 21  11:49 pm EST; 8:49 pm PST; 6:49 pm HAST

December’s new moon  Thursday Dec 29 06:53 UT; 8:53 am IST; 2:53 pm AWST/PHT; 5:53 pm AEDT
.                                            Thursday Dec 29 1:53 am EST
.                                            Wednesday Dec 28  8:53 pm HAST; 10:53 pm PST

January’s full moon       Thursday Jan 12 11:34 UT; 1:34 pm IST; 7:34 pm AWST/PHT; 10:34 pm AEDT
.                                            Thursday Jan 12 6:34 am EST; 3:34 am PST; 1:34 am HAST

January’s new moon      Saturday Jan 28 00:07 UT; 2:07 am IST; 8:07 am AWST/PHT; 11:07 am AEDT
.                                            Friday Jan 27 7:07 pm EST; 4:07 pm PST; 2:07 pm HAST

.                                  Check out Moon Giant to find Full Moon and New Moon times for your local time zone.

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Solstice Time Again

   Tuesday (22nd) or Monday (21st), depending on your time zone (see exact times above), will mark the December solstice — the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.  This is the time when the sun “stops” in its apparent movement southward and begins moving north again. (Remember – solstice means “sun standing still”.) Daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere have been waning ever since the June solstice. We in the North have paid our dues — it’s time for the return of the light!

   We did a rather extensive treatment of the solstice in the Seasonings section of our December 2014 issue. Click there if you’re curious for some diagrams and more details.

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Moon of Respect

   As you know, many cultures around the world kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. While most of these were appropriate for the season in which they occurred and keyed to the goings-on in their natural environment — sometimes the name was of a broader theme. True for this month’s choice. 

Native Moon Goddess

   The Hopi (living in the present-day corner where Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet) called this month’s moon Moon of Respect. According to the Wikipedia article on these peoples, the Hopi called themselves “The Peaceful People”, with the word “Hopi” meaning “behaving one, one who is mannered, civilized, peaceable.” (refs: Everything Under the Moon, Wikipedia)

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But Will You Be Able to Notice the Difference? 

  The full moon this month will be the third “super” moon in the current trifecta of super full moons that began in October. If you missed my last month’s post, you can check there for the scoop on how “super” it was, and why I thought all the fuss about its being the “super-est” was a tempest in a teapot.

So What Exactly is a “Supermoon”?
   Because the Moon’s orbit is elliptical in shape, its distance from the Earth fluctuates throughout each month. Its closest approach is called perigee (“closest to Earth”). Quite regularly, perigee occurs near the time of a full moon, causing the moon to appear slightly larger and brighter than usual. On slightly rarer occasions, perigee and fullness occur within less than two hours of each other. That is the case this time.

   Astronomers have for a long time referred to the confluence of perigee and fullness as a “perigee full moon”. Then in 1979, astrologer Richard Nolle made up the term “super” moon, arbitrarily defining it as any full or new moon that is within 90% of perigee. That casts a fairly wide net, as you can surmise.

What to Look for This Full Moon
   Though you won’t be able to distinguish this supermoon from other supermoons, you will be able to tell that it’s larger and brighter than when it’s an average full moon.

Supermoon vs. Average Moon

The supermoon of March 19, 2011 (right), compared to an average moon of December 20, 2010 (left). Image via Marco Langbroek, the Netherlands, via Wikimedia Commons.

  And as with any full moon, super or not, your best bet to be impressed by bigness will be when Ms. Luna is near the horizon. Check Seasonal Calendar, above, or TimeandDate for technical fullness times in your time zone. For moonrise and moonset times in your location, go to this TimeandDate page. (Remember that at the full moon, the moon rises as the sun sets, and sets as the sun rises.)

   While this supermoon won’t be quite as close to Earth as it was last month, the difference in size and brightness will be so small you won’t be able to tell the difference. It will be large and bright and beautiful. So, if clouds cooperate, go outside and take a moon bath!

  For lots more on the where/when/how/why of this phenomenon, plus some interesting photos, check out these web pages:
EarthSky   |   Snopes   |   Farmer’s Almanac   |   Space   |   NASA

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The Star of  Bethlehem – Probably Wasn’t a Star 

   Perhaps you’ve heard the recent hubub about the Star of Bethlehem not being an actual star. For a long time, astronomers have puzzled about what could have caused such a rare phenomenon, some proposing in years past that maybe it was a supernova (Wikipedia).

   Now, after studying historical, astronomical and biblical records for more than a decade, Grant Mathews, professor of theoretical astrophysics and cosmology at the University of Notre Dame, has come forth stating that he believes the event that led the Magi — Zoroastrian priests of ancient Babylon and Mesopotamia — was not a star at all, but rather an extremely rare planetary alignment occurring in 6 B.C., the likes of which may never be seen again.

Planetary Alignment

   For all the details, check out this University of Notre Dame article. And if you want to entertain yourself for hours, just Google “Grant Matthews Star of Bethlehem”.

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Continuing the “All of Us” Theme

   I introduced this section in July’s issue to offer a more unifying perspective on the troubles and pain we humans continue to inflict on each other. Many poets have expressed how calming the moon can be, due ~ among other things ~ to her perspective from above, her constant blessing of us while we deal with chaos below, and also to her silence. (See Just Sayin’ in July’s issue for my expansion on this point of view.)

   This perspective sees all of us as equal passengers on this bright blue marble. My July, August, September, October, and November posts offered songs I’d found expressing this idea in a variety of styles.

   This month’s “Respect” theme syncs well with this outlook. Whether in intimate relationships, talking with the checkout clerk, or bumping into that stranger coming out the door you’re going in, we’re all humans trying to deal with what Life is throwing at us. So this month another song from the sixties, this time from the Woodstock era, Everyday People by Sly & The Family Stone. Click the photo to open the YouTube page where you can listen to the group singing it in a very fun and well-produced video.

Everyday People ~ Sly and the Family Stone


I am no better and neither are you
We are the same, whatever we do
We got to live together
I am everyday people

   Click this AZLyrics link for the full lyrics.

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Moon Travels Through the Zodiac

  Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the zodiac – the moon takes just a month to complete an entire round. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign.

Moon in Signs and Void of Course

   Technical astrologers call the times while Ms. Luna is in transition from one sign to the next “void of course”. This is considered to be a sort of neither-here-nor-there state, which many people feel as being unsettled or ungrounded. Each astrologer chooses their own method for calculating times of beginning and ending VoC. You can find interesting (though differing) VoC info and tables at Dr. Standley and at Moontracks.

   Referencing the Moontracks table, we find that Ms. Luna entered the sign of Gemini on Monday (12th) at 12:41; she will remain there until after she becomes full on Wednesday (14th) at 00:06, and then at 05:57, will begin exiting Gemini and become VoC. Later the same day she will enter the next sign, Cancer, at 12:08. (Times here are UT~Universal Time.)

Full Moon in Gemini

Æterna ~  

Gemini Full Moon

   Æterna is a professional astrologer based in Italy, who also runs her own website Aeternalight Astrology “The Cosmic Path to a Conscious Life”, where she claims introspection and compassionate understanding as two of the major assets she brings to her astrology practice.

   For this full moon, Æterna tells us that Gemini addresses “embracing the creative possibilities of the mind.” Insightful and reflective, Æterna brings in an astrological perspective:

Gemini comes alive through collecting, absorbing and delivering information, in an incessant dialogue with the surroundings. 

   Hopefully that’s enough to pique your interest in taking a look at Æterna’s full article: Full Moon in Gemini – Thoughtforms. Because her style is both sensitive and pithy, you will want to set aside some quiet time to read and reflect on what she writes. 

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Molly Hall ~  

Full Moon in Gemini

   Molly Hall is resident astrologer at, where she provides both technical and practical insights derived from traditional interpretations of the positions of the stars and planets.

   Although she didn’t write a post specifically for this December’s full moon, Molly does have an article on the full moon in Gemini, in which she writes:

Under the Gemini Moon, the trickster is afoot. Humor becomes a way of defusing super serious situations.

   Intriguing and practical at the same time. Check out Molly’s article “Transiting Moon in Gemini“.

   In addition to her insights around full moons, Molly offers the following helpful articles:

   Also visit Molly’s front page for lots more interesting astrology.

Full moon in Gemini

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Calvin and Hobbes: A new horror-scope

   In this final installment of the Calvin and Hobbes series we began in July, Calvin’s new horoscope strikes terror in his heart

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    Thank you, dear reader, for visiting EM&S this “moonth”. I hope you liked it.

   Here’s a little bit about me and what this blog is about. I’ve been fascinated with astronomy ever since I learned to read. I’m also interested in how objects in the heavens influence people. In this blog I collect facts and folklore about our moon and other sky phenomena.

   If you especially liked something you saw here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. And please don’t be shy about sharing this post with friends if you like it!

   Note that I have a separate post called ARCHIVES which contains a list of all the titles I’ve posted since the inception of this blog. The titles are clickable of course. Easier and more informative than just the dates that appear in the right-side Archives column. (I’m slowly learning more things I can make WordPress do. There’s a lot there!)

   Until the full moon in January,
here’s wishing all of us a month of peace and respect.

~ Moonlight to all,

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My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect us directly, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that the astrologers I feature express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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    A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

    When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

    Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

    Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

    So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

    Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

    If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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   The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images or compositions (e.g. songs, poetry) appearing on it. Copyrighted works remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is content appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the item in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.


About aquarianman

Aquarian interested in anything to do with the Earth, our Moon, and anything flying around out there in space.
This entry was posted in astronomy, Constellations, Folklore, moon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to December’s Super Full Moon of Respect

  1. Jeanete Biasotti says:

    What fun to read this. Thank you Marty for the time you invest to prepare this gift to the world. Well Done!

    • aquarianman says:

      Thank you for your kind comment, Jeanete. I derive mucho satisfaction — and learning — from putting this together each full moon. If all it does is move someone to pause for a moment and gaze upward, I feel I have succeeded. ~Marty

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