See December's Full Cold Moon shine in the sky like a Christmas ornament (photos)

close-up of the moon with the black sky in behind
The Cold Moon rises over Catania Italy with a clear sky on Dec. 25, 2023 (Image credit: Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images)

The final full moon of 2023 has risen and set over Earth in form of December's aptly named "Cold Moon." 

With the full moon on Tuesday (Dec. 26), skywatchers and astrophotographers weren't going to let obstacles like Christmas Day hangovers — or frigid temperatures of a cold December night — stop them from capturing some truly awe-inspiring images of the Cold Moon from around the globe.

Here are just a few of those December full moon images that were shared online and across social media, serving as a festive feast for the eyes. 

Related: Full moon calendar 2023: When to see the next full moon

Though all of the following Cold Moon images are stunning, one December full moon image is truly out of this world. Captured from Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Monday (Dec. 25), the picture not only shows the moon in stunning detail, but also features the tiny shadow of the Chinese Tiangong space station as it transits the lunar face. 

The Tiangong space station crosses the face of the Cold Moon on Dec. 25, 2023. (Image credit: Thilina Kaluthotage/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Closer to home, the Cold Moon took on a surprisingly warm orangey/red hue, also appearing to be stunningly large as it rose behind the San Mateo Bridge across San Francisco Bay in California. 

December's Cold Moon appears as a warm red ball behind San Mateo Bridge in San Francisco Bay. (Image credit: ayfun Cokun/Anadolu/ Getty Images)

December's Cold Moon looked slightly chillier with a more familiar yellow glimmer, when it was spotted rising behind the 100-storey tall EdgeNYC observation deck in New York City in an image taken from nearby New Jersey. 

The Cold moon seen behind the EdgeNYC observation deck in New York City on Dec. 26, 2023. (Image credit: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu/ Getty Images)

Manhattan Bird Alert shared a suitably chilly image of the Cold Moon on X (formerly Twitter), frostily shining through winter fog and illuminating the sky over Central Park, also in New York City. 

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The Cold Moon was also shrouded by fog in an image of the Empire State Building and midtown Manhattan by X user Gary Hershorn, taken on Tuesday evening. 

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The fog and clouds were almost too much in Spokane, Washington, to allow X user Young Kwak to catch an image of the full moon. The photographer was able to catch a glimpse of the Cold Moon before it vanished behind cloud cover. 

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Also on X, self-described astronomy lover and photographer Jennifer Rose Lane shared some incredible images of the December Cold Moon from West Virginia. 

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In the UK, Tuesday marked the traditional bank holiday of Boxing Day. But that didn't stop skywatchers in England, Scotland, Wales and northern Ireland from catching some incredible full moon images. 

The moon was seen with a foreboding red glow over one of England's most famous landmarks, Stonehenge in Wiltshire, in an image shared on the monument's X feed.

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In Scotland, the Cold Moon was captured as it reflected in the gently rippling waters of Loch Leven National Nature Reserve, located in Kinross. 

The Cold Moon seen over Loch Leven National Nature Reserve on Boxing Day, on Dec. 26, 2023, in Kinross, Scotland.  (Image credit: Getty Images)

December's full moon was imaged in daylight as it rose behind a hillside occupied by Rocca Calascio castle and village in Calascio, Italy, with the lunar face visible in striking detail. 

The Cold Moon behind Rocca Calascio castle on Dec. 26, 2023. (Image credit: Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

In Istanbul, Turkey, the Cold Moon was pictured as it rose over an important cultural and religious site: the stunning architecture of the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. 

The 2023 Cold Moon rises over the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey on Dec. 26, 2023. (Image credit: Cemal Yurttas/Anadol/Getty Images)

The Cold Moon was also captured dimly shimmering over Ninova in Mosul, Iraq.

The full moon rises over the Ninova in Mosul, Iraq on Dec. 26, 2023.  (Image credit: Ismael Adnan Yaqoob/Anadolu/Getty Images)

If these incredible full moon images have got you eager to capture the next fully illuminated lunar face for yourself, you won't have to wait too long. The next full moon — and the first full moon of the coming year — is the Wolf Moon, which rises on Jan. 25, 2024. 

TOP TELESCOPE PICK:

A Celestron telescope on a white background

(Image credit: Celestron)

Looking for a telescope to see the moon? We recommend the Celestron Astro Fi 102 as the top pick in our best beginner's telescope guide

If you'd like to take a look at the moon close-up after seeing these incredible photos, our guides to the best telescopes and best binoculars are a great place to start.

And whether you want to image the moon or to explore the night sky in general, check out our guide on how to photograph the moon, as well as our recommendations for the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.

Editor's Note: If you snap an image of the Cold Moon and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Robert Lea
Contributing Writer

Robert Lea is a science journalist in the U.K. whose articles have been published in Physics World, New Scientist, Astronomy Magazine, All About Space, Newsweek and ZME Science. He also writes about science communication for Elsevier and the European Journal of Physics. Rob holds a bachelor of science degree in physics and astronomy from the U.K.’s Open University. Follow him on Twitter @sciencef1rst.

  • STARPUNK
    Admin said:
    The final full moon of 2023, the Cold Moon, rose on Dec. 26. Skywatchers around the globe were primed and ready to capture some fantastic images of the fully illuminated lunar face.

    See December's Full Cold Moon shine in the sky like a Christmas ornament (photos) : Read more
    This is the rare 13th full moon of the year. FYI, in anticipation of the December release of his new 'I/O' album, Peter Gabriel released one of the tracks with an animated video - at every full moon in 2023, excepting this one of course.
    Reply
  • 32eclipsed
    The 12/26/23 pic of the full moon in Istanbul, Turkey appears to be a moonset in the west, not a moonrise in the east.
    Reply