NPR logo A Rare Full Moon On Christmas, And Other Unusual Celestial Events

A Rare Full Moon On Christmas, And Other Unusual Celestial Events

The full cold moon seen through the star of a Christmas tree in Beirut, on Dec. 24. Hassan Ammar/AP hide caption

toggle caption Hassan Ammar/AP

The full cold moon seen through the star of a Christmas tree in Beirut, on Dec. 24.

Hassan Ammar/AP

All is not calm weatherwise, but it will be extra bright this Christmas.

"A rare full moon will be an added gift for the holidays," NASA says. A full moon on Christmas hasn't happened since 1977, and it won't happen again until 2034.

You'll have to get up early on Christmas Day to catch the moon in all its glory. "The moon's peak this year will occur at 6:11 a.m. EST," NASA says.

WBUR's Here and Now spoke with Kelly Beatty, senior editor of Sky and Telescope, about the full moon:

"This is one of those cycles of the cosmos that every once in a while, it winds around and falls on a day that we consider a holiday or important — Christmas being one of them."

It's not the only out-of-the-ordinary meteorological event happening over the holiday weekend.

Unusually high temperatures along the East Coast mean that the Christmas Day temperature in New York is forecast to be warmer than Los Angeles.

Here's a map from the National Weather Service showing those unseasonably warm temperatures in the East and South on Christmas:

The East and South will see unseasonably high temperatures on Christmas Day. National Weather Service hide caption

toggle caption National Weather Service

On the other hand, Northern California and the Pacific Northwest are set to get some heavy snowfall this holiday. In the Sierra Nevada, the snowpack is higher than average — which has become a rarity recently in light of California's drought, The Los Angeles Times reports:

"The storms, which are likely to continue into Friday, have fattened the mountain snowpack to levels California hasn't seen for two years, said Steve Nemeth, water supply forecaster for the state Department of Water Resources."

On a more serious note, parts of the South and Midwest have experienced deadly heavy rains, flooding and tornadoes, as we previously reported.

And much, much farther afield, NASA says an asteroid is set to fly past Earth on Christmas Eve. But the agency's Paul Chodas says there's no reason to be worried — "The closest this object will come to Santa and his eight tiny reindeer is about 28 times the distance between Earth and the moon."

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