The Full Moon at Christmastime is always a special sight - especially in the snow-covered mountains of Montana. This year's December full moon is Saturday (December 18) at 9:37 p.m. MST. But, the memorable views of the moon happen at dusk.

This week, the moonrise has been during the 4 p.m. hour and the Earth's atmosphere does some nice "painting" of the disc as it comes up from behind the eastern mountains. And it rises almost directly east this month, meaning it will cross over the middle of the sky in one of the longest transits for us on the ground this year. If you're busy to look on Saturday, don't worry. The moon will look pretty much full Friday night and Sunday night, too. And, it's almost about 10 percent closer to the Earth on the orbit this weekend, so the glow will be just a little bit larger than usual.

Moonrise. (Mike Daniels file photo, Townsquare Media)

The full moon is only days away from the Winter Solstice December 21, which is the official start of winter. Many of us think that winter's start has already happened. However, it is the longest night of the year, with the hours of daylight increasing from next Tuesday until mid-summertime.

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It seems that every culture in the past had a different name for a December moon. Looking through the web, I found a few - Snow Moon, Winter Maker Moon, Long Night Moon, Little Spirit Moon, and Moon Before Yule. My favorites, though, are "Cold Moon," very appropriate for Montana, and a Native American name, "Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers" from the Dakotas. By the way, the first full moon of 2022 will be January 17 and the two popular names for that one are Wolf Moon and Ice Moon.

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