Earth and the Moon as seen over the tail and engines of the Space Shuttle Discovery in orbit.

Looking Back: An iconic image of the Moon and crescent of Earth behind the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998. Credit: NASA | › Full image and caption

The Next Full Moon is the Beaver Moon, the Frost or Frosty Moon, the Snow Moon, Kartik Purnima, the Moon of the Boun That Luang Festival, and Il Poya.

The next full Moon will be on Tuesday morning, Nov. 12, 2019, appearing "opposite" the Sun (in Earth based longitude) at 8:34 AM EST. The Moon will appear full for about three days centered on this time, from Sunday evening through Wednesday morning (and possibly early Wednesday evening).

Full Moon

November 12

The Moon will appear full for about three days centered on this time, from Sunday evening through Wednesday morning (and possibly early Wednesday evening).

The Maine Farmer's Almanac first published Indian names for the full Moons in the 1930's. According to this almanac, the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northern and eastern United States named the full Moon in October or the second full Moon of the Fall season the Beaver Moon. One interpretation is that mid-Fall was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Moon came from how active the beavers were in this season as they prepared for winter. Other names for this Moon (probably from the more northern tribes) were the Frost or Frosty Moon and the Snow Moon, although these names were also used for the last Moon of Fall or the full Moon in December.

As the full Moon (purnima) in the month of Kartik, this full Moon (Kartik Purnima) is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sihks (each for different reasons. In Laos, this full Moon corresponds with the Boun That Luang Festival, a three-day celebration of the oldest and most highly acclaimed of the Buddhist temples in Laos, Pha That Luang, located in the capital city, Vientiane. In Sri Lanka, this is the Ill (or Il) Poya, commemorating the Buddha's ordination of sixty disciples as the first Buddhist missionaries.

In lunisolar calendars the months change with the new Moon and full Moons fall in the middle of the lunar month. This full Moon is the middle of the tenth month of the Chinese calendar and Marcheshvan in the Hebrew calendar, the month in which the great flood began. In the Islamic calendar the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon a few days after the New Moon. This full Moon is near the middle of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month of the year. Most Muslims celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad during this month, although Sunni and Shi'a Muslims disagree on the exact date.

As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon.

As for other celestial events between now and the full Moon after next:

Shorter Days

As autumn continues the daily periods of sunlight continue to shorten. For Washington, DC, on the day of the full Moon (November 12), the period of daylight will last 10 hours, 9 minutes, 40 seconds. Morning twilight will begin at 5:47 AM, sunrise will be at 6:47 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum altitude of 33.4 degrees at 11:52 AM, sunset will be at 4:57 PM, and evening twilight will end at 5:57 PM. By the day of the full Moon after next (December 12), the period of daylight will be 41 minutes shorter, lasting 9 hours, 29 minutes, 2 seconds. Morning twilight will begin at 6:14 AM, sunrise will be at 7:17 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum altitude of 28.0 degrees at 12:02 PM, sunset will be at 4:46 PM (one of the earliest sunsets of the year), and evening twilight will end at 5:50 PM.

The Night of the Full Moon

On the evening of the full Moon on Nov. 12, 2019, as evening twilight ends, the brightest planet in the sky will be Venus, appearing about 2 degrees above the horizon in the west-southwest. Second in brightness, Jupiter, will appear in the southwest at about 10 degrees above the horizon. Saturn will appear in the south-southwest at about 22 degrees above the horizon. The bright star nearly directly overhead (at 81 degrees above the northwestern horizon) will be Deneb. The bright star Vega will appear to the west of Deneb with the bright star Altair appearing towards the south, making up the three stars of the Summer Triangle. Over the lunar month the background of stars and the planets Jupiter and Saturn will appear to shift towards the west each evening, while Venus will appear to shift in the opposite direction low along the horizon in the west-southwest. Venus will appear to pass less than 1.5 degrees from Jupiter on the evenings of Saturday and Sunday, November 23 and 24, and appear to pass less than 2 degrees from Saturn on the evenings of Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 10 and 11, 2019. By the evening of the full Moon after next, on Dec. 12, 2019, Jupiter will have already set. Bright Venus will appear in the southwest at about 10 degrees above the horizon with Saturn appearing to the right of Venus.

During the middle of the night in November and December the bright stars of the local arm of our home galaxy, including the constellation Orion will appear spread across the sky from southeast to northwest, gradually shifting towards the west.

Morning Mercury and Mars

On the morning of the full Moon on Nov. 12, 2019, as morning twilight begins, the planet Mars will appear about 11 degrees above the horizon in the east-southeast with the bright star Spica appearing to the right of Mars. The bright stars of the local arm of our home galaxy, including the constellation Orion, will appear spread across the sky along the southwestern horizon. As the lunar month progresses, Mars and the background of stars will appear to shift towards the west, with Mars and Spica gradually separating. Around the morning of Sunday, November 17, the planet Mercury will begin to appear above the horizon at the time morning twilight begins, appearing as bright as Mars. Mercury will brighten significantly and appear higher above the horizon, reaching its highest in the east-southeast (at the time morning twilight begins) on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, appearing slightly over 7 degrees above the horizon for the Washington, DC area (and similar latitudes). By the morning of the full Moon after next on Dec. 12, 2019, as morning twilight begins, bright Mercury will appear to have shifted lower in the sky, appearing about 2 degrees above the horizon in the east-southeast, while Mars will appear about 18 degrees above the southeast horizon. The bright stars of the local arm of our home galaxy will be setting and lost from view in the west-southwest.

In 2001, the Leonid meteor shower (debris from the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle) produced a spectacular show. Unfortunately, the next show like this is not expected until 2099. This year the waning gibbous Moon will interfere with the peak of this meteor shower on the morning of Nov. 18, 2019, so it is unlikely that those of us living in urban environments will be able to see these meteors. A little more promising is the Geminid meteor shower, which will begin to show a few meteors around December 4 and will ramp up to its peak around the morning of December 14, tapering off by Dec. 17, 2019. This year the light of the nearly full waning Moon will reduce the number of meteors that will be visible, so this will not be a good year for viewing the Geminids. The time to look is after midnight, from a dark area far from city lights that has a clear view of a wide expanse of sky, on a night with clear skies and no haze.

Daily Guide

Even though they are not usually visible, I include in these Moon missives information about Near Earth Objects (mostly asteroids) that may pass the Earth within 5 lunar distances, because I find it interesting that we have discovered so many.

On Friday afternoon, Nov. 8, 2019, at 12:41 PM EST (2019-Nov-08 17:41 UTC), Near Earth Object (2019 UM12), between 31 and 68 meters (100 to 224 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 1.3 lunar distances, traveling at 13.57 kilometers per second (30,370 miles per hour).

November 10

On Sunday evening, Nov. 10, 2019, at about 9:03 PM EST (2019-Nov-11 02:03 UTC with 4 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 VX3), between 11 and 25 meters (36 to 81 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 4.0 and 4.1 lunar distances (nominally 4.0), traveling at 16.04 kilometers per second (35,880 miles per hour).

November 11

On Monday morning, Nov. 11, 2019, at 2:13 AM EST (2019-Nov-11 07:13 UTC), Near Earth Object (2019 VX2), between 5 and 10 meters (15 to 34 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 3.6 lunar distances, traveling at 6.21 kilometers per second (13,900 miles per hour).

On Monday morning, Nov. 11, 2019, the planet Mercury will be passing between the Earth and the Sun as seen from the Earth, called inferior conjunction. Planets that orbit inside the orbit of Earth can have two types of conjunctions with the Sun, inferior (when passing between the Earth and the Sun) and superior (when passing on the far side of the Sun as seen from the Earth). Mercury will be shifting from the evening sky to the morning sky and will begin emerging from the glow of the dawn on the eastern horizon by mid-November (depending upon viewing conditions).

For this inferior conjunction, Mercury will be passing across the face of the Sun as seen from Earth, but you should not even consider trying to view this unless you know what you are doing and have a specially equipped solar telescope. Mercury will be too small to see with regular eclipse glasses, and using any sort of lens to concentrate sunlight into your eyes is a really, really bad idea (like permanent damage and blindness kind of idea), unless you have the right equipment and know what you are doing. Transits of Mercury, while harder to see, are much more common than transits of Venus. The next transit of Mercury will be in 2023, while the next transit of Venus will be in 2117.

On Monday morning, Nov. 11, 2019, at about 10:49 AM EST (2019-Nov-11 15:49 UTC with 6 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 VN), between 23 and 52 meters (76 to 170 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 3.0 and 3.1 lunar distances (nominally 3.1), traveling at 13.60 kilometers per second (30,420 miles per hour).

November 12

As mentioned above, the next full Moon will be on Tuesday morning, Nov. 12, 2019, at 8:34 AM EST.

Sometime around Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 12, 2019 (2019-Nov-12 20:36 UTC with 5 hours uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 UB14), between 17 and 38 meters (55 to 123 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 4.6 and 5.1 lunar distances (nominally 4.9), traveling at 15.44 kilometers per second (34,530 miles per hour).

November 16 - 17

On Wednesday morning, Nov. 13, 2019, at about 8:40 AM EST (2019-Nov-13 13:40 UTC with 4 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 UN12), between 111 and 248 meters (364 to 813 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 3.7 and 3.8 lunar distances (nominally 3.7), traveling at 28.82 kilometers per second (64,480 miles per hour).

Around midday on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 (2019-Nov-13 17:59 UTC with 1 hour, 32 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2019 VX), between 23 and 52 meters (76 to 170 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at 4.1 lunar distances, traveling at 10.82 kilometers per second (24,210 miles per hour).

On Wednesday night into Thursday morning, November 13 to 14, 2019, the bright star Aldebaran will appear below the full Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise a few minutes after evening twilight ends at 5:59 PM EST and Aldebaran will rise around 6:16 PM EST. The Moon will reach its highest in the sky for the evening on Thursday morning at 1:17 AM and morning twilight will begin around 5:49 AM.

November 16 - 17

On Saturday night into Sunday morning, November 16 to 17, 2019, the bright star appearing about 8 degrees from the waning gibbous Moon will be Pollux, one of the twins in the constellation Gemini the twins. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon and Pollux will rise together in the east-northeast at 8:26 PM EST, the Moon will reach its highest in the sky for the evening Sunday morning at 4:03 AM, and morning twilight will begin around 5:52 AM.

Around the morning of Sunday, November 17, the planet Mercury will begin to appear above the horizon at the time morning twilight begins, appearing as bright as Mars at first but brightening and rising earlier in the morning over the following evenings.

November 19 - 20

Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 19, 2019, the waning Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its last quarter at 4:11 PM EST.

On Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, Nov. 19 to 20, 2019, the bright star Regulus will appear near the waning, nearly half-full Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise in the east-northeast at 11:45 PM EST with Regulus appearing to the right of the Moon. Regulus will still appear to the right of the Moon as morning twilight begins on Wednesday morning at around 5:55 AM.

November 23

Saturday morning, Nov. 23, 2019, at 2:41 AM EST, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit.

Bright Venus will appear to pass less than 1.5 degrees from Jupiter on the evenings of Saturday and Sunday, November 23 and 24, 2019. For the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end around 5:51 PM EST, when these two planets will appear about 5 degrees above the horizon in the west-southwest. They will only be visible low on the horizon for a short time each evening as Venus will set by 6:23 PM on Saturday and 6:25 PM on Sunday.

November 24

On Sunday morning, Nov. 24, 2019, the planet Mars will appear in the east-southeast to the right of the waning crescent Moon, with the planet Mercury appearing below the Moon. For the Washington, DC area, morning twilight will begin around 5:59 AM EST, when the Moon will appear about 15 degrees above the horizon, Mars will appear about 14 degrees above the horizon, and Mercury will appear about 7 degrees above the horizon.

November 25

By Monday morning, Nov. 25, 2019, the thin waning crescent Moon will appear to have shifted to appear below and to the left of Mercury, such that the Moon, Mercury and Mars will appear in a line in the east-southeast. The Moon will only be about 3 degrees above the horizon at the time morning twilight begins, so you will need a clear view of the horizon to see this alignment.

November 26

Tuesday morning, Nov. 26, 2019, at 10:06 AM EST, will be the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from the Earth. The New Moon (or shortly after) marks the start of the new month for most lunisolar calendars. The eleventh month of the Chinese calendar starts on Nov. 26, 2019 (at midnight in China's time zone, which is 13 hours ahead of EST). Sundown on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, marks the start of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. In the Islamic calendar the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon after the New Moon. Thursday evening, Nov. 28, 2019, will probably mark the beginning of Rabi' al-Thani, the fourth month of the year.

November 27

Around the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, Mercury will appear at its highest above the horizon in the east-southeast (at the time morning twilight begins), appearing slightly over 7 degrees above the horizon for the Washington, DC area and similar latitudes. Mercury will reach its greatest angular separation from the Sun for this apparition (appearing half-full through a telescope) on Thursday morning.

November 28

On Thursday (Thanksgiving) evening, Nov. 28, 2019, the bright planet appearing in the southwest just below the waxing crescent Moon will be Venus, with the planet Jupiter appearing to the lower right and the planet Saturn appearing to the upper left. For the Washington, DC area, at the time evening twilight ends (at 5:50 PM EST), Jupiter will be about 4 degrees above the horizon, Venus about 6 degrees above the horizon, the Moon about 8 degrees above the horizon, and Saturn about 17 degrees above the horizon. Jupiter will set around 6:17 PM, Venus around 6:30 PM, the Moon around 6:44 PM, and Saturn around 7:42 PM.

November 29

By Friday evening, Nov. 29, 2019, the Moon will appear to have shifted further to the upper left, such that the planet Saturn will appear to the upper right of the waxing crescent Moon.

December 4

On Wednesday morning, Dec. 4, 2019, the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 1:58 AM EST.

Wednesday night, Dec. 4, 2019, at 11:09 PM EST, the Moon will be at apogee, its farthest from the Earth for this orbit.

Sometime around the first half of December, 2019 (2019-Dec-06 16:26 UTC with 7 days, 22 hours, 54 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2016 XA2), between 127 and 284 meters (417 to 933 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 0.9 and 133.1 lunar distances (nominally 66.9), traveling at 28.76 kilometers per second (64,330 miles per hour).

December 7 - 8

Sometime on Saturday or Sunday, Dec. 7 or 8, 2019 (2019-Dec-07 20:32 UTC with 10 hours, 48 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2009 WY7), between 40 and 90 meters (132 to 295 feet) in size, will pass the Earth at between 2.9 and 90.2 lunar distances (nominally 37.7), traveling at 16.54 kilometers per second (37,000 miles per hour).

The Earliest Sunset of the Year

For the Washington, DC area (and similar latitudes at least), the earliest sunset of the year will occur on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. The length of a solar day varies throughout the year. Around the solstices the solar day is slightly longer than the 24 hour average that our clocks use. Because of this, the earliest sunsets of the year occur before the winter solstice and the latest sunrises of the year (ignoring Daylight Savings Time) occur after the solstice. For the Washington, DC area, the darkest evenings and earliest sunsets of the year will occur on the 13 days from Sunday, Dec. 1 through Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. Rounded to the minute, these sunsets will be at 4:46 PM EST across these dates.

December 10 and 11

On the evenings of Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 10 and 11, 2019, bright Venus will appear less than two degrees from Saturn. Try looking in the southwest as evening twilight ends (around 5:50 PM EST for the Washington, DC area).

On Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, Dec. 10 to 11, 2019, the bright star Aldebaran will appear near the full Moon. As evening twilight ends on Tuesday evening, Aldebaran will appear about 6.5 degrees below and to the left of the Moon in the east. By the time morning twilight begins on Wednesday morning, Aldebaran will appear about 2.5 degrees to the left of the setting Moon in the west-northwest.

December 12

The full Moon after next will be Thursday morning, Dec. 12, 2019, at 12:12 AM EST.

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