(Updated Dec. 5) This year, the full moons of October, November and December all take place when the moon is at its closest point of approach in its orbit around Earth — a so-called supermoon.
The third and final installment of this supermoon trifecta will be on Tuesday, Dec. 13. The moon will reach peak fullness at 7:05 p.m. EST (0005 GMT on Dec. 14), but it will appear full to the casual observer the night before and after the main event. The online Virtual Telescope Project will host a webcast featuring live views of the supermoon starting at 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) on Dec. 13.
December's full moon falls on the same night as the peak of the Geminid meteor shower, and unfortunately for skywatchers, that will mean poor meteor-viewing conditions. The light of the full moon will reduce visibility "five to ten fold," according to a statement from NASA. Under those conditions, skywatchers will likely see fewer than a dozen Geminids per hour. The Slooh Community Observatory will host a webcast for the Geminid shower. You can watch that webcast live on Space.com, courtesy of Slooh. [Supermoon Science: NASA Explains the Extra-close Full Moon (Video)]
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A full moon occurs each month when the sun, Earth and moon line up, with the moon on the side of the Earth opposite to the sun. The term "supermoon" is used to describe a full moon at its perigee — the point in the moon's orbit when it is closest to Earth, causing it to appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter in the sky, NASA officials said in the statement.
Naming the full moon
December's full moon is also known in the Northern Hemisphere as the Full Cold Moon and the Long Nights Moon, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. It follow's November's full Beaver Moon, so-named because it arrives at the time of year when hunters would set traps before the waters froze over, to ensure they had enough warm furs for the winter. December's full moon also has been referred to as the full Frost Moon, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.
Editor's note: If you snap an awesome photo of the moon that you'd like to share with Space.com and our news partners for a potential story or gallery, send images and comments to managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.