Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2015 December 25
A Dust Devil on Mars
Image Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA Explanation: It was late in the northern martian spring when the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spied this local denizen. Tracking across the flat, dust-covered Amazonis Planitia in 2012, the core of this whirling dust devil is about 140 meters in diameter. Lofting dust into the thin martian atmosphere, its plume reaches about 20 kilometers above the surface. Common to this region of Mars, dust devils occur as the surface is heated by the Sun, generating warm, rising air currents that begin to rotate. Tangential wind speeds of up to 110 kilometers per hour are reported for dust devils in other HiRISE images.
First full moon on Christmas since 1977
This month, the December full moon falls on Friday, December 25, 2015. For Earth’s Western Hemisphere, it’s the first full moon on Christmas Day since 1977.*
We won’t have another full moon on a Christmas Day until 2034.
A 19-year cycle of the moon is the reason. Amazingly, the moon’s phases recur on (or near) the same calendar dates every 19 years. This cycle – known as the Metonic cycle – happens because 235 returns to full moon almost exactly equal 19 years.
So, in other words, the phases of the moon realign (or nearly realign) with the same calendar dates every 19 years. We just missed a full moon on Christmas 19 years ago; instead, the full moon fell on Christmas Eve. It was December 24, 1996 at 20:41 Universal Time, or UT.
But two Metonic cycles ago – 38 years (or 2 X 19 years) – the full moon fell on Christmas Day. That full moon happened on December 25, 1977 at 12:49 UT.
Astronomically speaking, the moon is only full for an instant – at the moment that it’s 180o opposite the sun in ecliptic longitude.
This month, that happens on December 25, 2015 at 11:11 UT. At United States time zones, that translates to 6:11 a.m. EST, 5:11 a.m. CST, 4:11 a.m. MST or 3:11 a.m. PST.
Although the moon turns full at the same instant worldwide, the clock reads differently by timezone. On a worldwide scale, the full moon actually comes at all hours around the clock. See the worldwide map below. The full moon takes place before sunrise December 25 in North America, noon in Europe and Africa and after sunset December 25 in eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Moon cycles are not commensurate with the calendar, which is based upon the seasons – not the lunar cycle. Therefore, one year from now, the December 2016 full moon will not fall on December 25.
In any year, the phases of the moon take place about 11 days earlier than in the previous year. For instance, the December 2016 full moon will happen on December 14, 2016, and the December 2017 full moon will fall on December 3, 2017.
The moon will look plenty full tonight as it lights up the nighttime from dusk till dawn. Look for the full-looking moon to rise opposite of the setting sun at early evening. The moon will shine highest up for the night around midnight and then will sink low into the western sky as dawn colors the sky.
*Note: For most of the world’s Eastern Hemisphere (Asia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand), the last Christmas full moon happened in 1996. In 1996, the full moon occurred on December 24 at 20:41 Universal Time … December 25 in those places.
Bottom line: The December 25, 2015 full moon is the Western Hemisphere’s first full moon on Christmas Day since 1977. We won’t have another full moon on a Christmas Day until 2034. A 19-year cycle of the moon – called the Metonic Cycle – is the reason.
About the Author
The Words of Confucius
Silence is a true friend who never betrays.
Your Daily Influences
December 25, 2015
The Devil Reversed
The reversed Devil signifies a spiritual rebirth, freedom from the preoccupation with the secular and the overcoming of pride and selfishness.
Berkano reversed may foretell family problems and dissatisfaction. Your life path my not be clear to you at this time. Be careful to protect that which is yours.
The tortoise represents the dome of the sky, the universe. It tells you to take slow, deliberate steps and you can achieve everything you desire.
Your Daily Influences represent events and challenges the current day will present for you. They may represent opportunities you should be ready to seize. Or they may forewarn you of problems you may be able to avoid or lessen. Generally it is best to use them as tips to help you manage your day and nothing more.
Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today
The Crow is the trusted messenger that alerts its allies to both danger and opportunity. Although they may appear playful and too opportunistic to be trusted, Crows are in fact powerful and trustworthy. The Crow sees and hears all. When The Crow reports it is best to listen as their news is always important and presented accurately.
Today’s Witches Rune
Keywords: Love, relationships.
Meanings: The Rings is the rune of love and when it is the leading stone, it is a positive answer to your question. It is very much a rune of relationship and can indicate engagement, marriage or a new/renewed relationship. It can also indicate the need for a fresh approach to an existing relationship.
Your Crowley Thoth Tarot Card for Today
Adjustment denotes an inner power, mastery of will and development of inner might. Through mastering one’s emotions and learning from both success and failure the person Adjustment represents has reached a place where they are influential without applying physical force, able to weather the roughest of storms, and not likely to abandon the less fortunate. Adjustment also denotes a large capacity for forgiveness and compassion. Adjustment is not as much about winning as it is about achieving balance, overcoming hardship, and using well crafted persuasion to gain allies. Adjustment suggests the need and ability to make our decisions based on objective perceptions of events, and good or bad, accepting responsibility for our actions.
Your Daily I Ching Hexagram
December 25th, 2015
Do not be forceful or start fights of any kind. Find compromises. Stay calm and do not think with your emotions. Seek allies.
Line One of Your Hexagram is a 6:
State your case to the public and not in the courts.
Line Two of Your Hexagram is a 9:
Do not fight battles you cannot win.
Line Three of Your Hexagram is a 6:
Begin your own enterprise. Abandon failing relationships.
Line Four of Your Hexagram is a 9:
Avoid conflict with the irrational and taunting.
Line Five of Your Hexagram is a 9:
Express your point of view and expect positive feedback.
Line Six of Your Hexagram is a 9:
You will have setbacks in the short-term. Be patient.
Uruz is the Rune of harmony, order and inner strength. Often it marks endings and beginnings of periods in our lives. Uruz also symbolizes your ability to tackle new challenges by confronting them with the powers that lie within you. Opportunities probably abound for you right now.
Additional information about Today’s Rune, Uruz
uruz : aurochs
Phonetic equivalent: u
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: passion, vitality, instinct, wildness, sexuality, fertility, the unconscious, primitive mind, irrationality, shamanic experience, rite of passage
MAGICAL USES: to strengthen the will, increase sexual potency and energy; for hunting
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Ullr, Loki, Odin (as shaman)
ANALYSIS: The aurochs was a species of wild ox, similar to a bison, that was once found all over Europe, but which became extinct sometime in the 17th century. They were said to be slightly smaller than elephants, and had horns as long as six feet, which believed were highly prized by the Germanii as drinking horns. Paintings of aurochs have been found in Neolithic caves, and it believed that the aurochs hunt had some significance as a rite of passage for a boy entering manhood. The aurochs is the epitome of the wild animal, as opposed to the domesticated cattle represented by fehu.
Uruz is the rune of the God of the sacred hunt and his shaman/priest. Following the kind of mundane, day-to-day survival represented by fehu, it is the first recognition by mankind of the divine in nature, and his first attempt to control it through the use of sympathetic magic. It also represents an awareness of death and our own mortality, which may well be the only thing that truly distinguishes us from other animals. The energy of this rune is raw, powerful, and distinctly masculine, in the sense that it is first pure, elemental fire. The boy who has killed the aurochs has just entered manhood, and has therefore been initiated into the first level of the mysteries – the awareness that the source of life is death.
The Runic Journey (PDF)
By Jennifer Smith
Tarot Card of the Day
>From a modern point of view, this great reunion — which includes every personality that you have ever been and every soul that you have done deep work with — reunites to consciously complete the process. In a way, we symbolically celebrate this returning to center every year on our birthday.
In personal terms, the Judgment cards points to freedom from inner conflicts, and so clear a channel, that the buried talents and gifts of past incarnations can come through an individual in this lifetime. This card counsels you to trust the process of opening yourself, because what emerges is of consistently high quality. You can effortlessly manifest as a multi-dimensional being, and assist in evoking that response from others.
If You Were Born Today, December 25
You are a highly intuitive yet grounded and earthy person. You hear the unspoken and see the unseen with your very strong powers of perception, yet you tend to prefer to remain quiet much of the time. You do have a knowing look that can intimidate some and appeal to most. You are fair-minded and essentially a peacemaker, although you have tremendous backbone that you can call upon when needed.
Famous people born today: Humphrey Bogart, Sissy Spacek, Annie Lennox, Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Buffett, Barbara Mandrell, Clara Barton.
Courtesy of Cafe Astrology
Your Daily Horoscopes for Friday, December 25th
A Full Moon occurs in your family and home sector this morning, dear Aries, and can stimulate deep feelings, new awareness, and appreciation for your personal life, loved ones, and home life. It might also bring a problem area to light so that you can handle it. There can be an epiphany about security, family, and how to manage your personal life now. Today is strong for practical thinking, even though emotions are highlighted. There can be exciting plans or a more positive attitude towards a work or health matter. Making plans for finances, business deals, and problem solving are all favored now.
The Full Moon occurring this morning illuminates your communications sector, dear Taurus. While this might prompt a rush of activity, it can also be a time of important news or recognition of a need surrounding educational, legal, or travel matters. Whatever does emerge now, it’s meant to push you forward, even if at first it slows you down! Watch out for processing too much information or for sensory overload now – be discriminating with what you take in. Today is strong for presenting your sharing ideas, expressing yourself, and having a good sense of future trends, such that making long-term plans can be successful and enjoyable now.
A Full Moon happens this morning, dear Gemini, illuminating your sector of values, resources, and finances. A financial matter may come to light, or an issue revolving around sharing, support, values, or possessions can figure strongly now. Full Moons sometimes bring on a little bit of chaos or heightened feelings, but in the long run, this one is about bringing more predictability to key areas of your life. A favorable Mercury-Jupiter connection points to a nice flow of thoughts and ideas. You might also find it especially easy to agree and cooperate with a partner or friend, and they with you. Support tends to be there.
The Moon enters your sign early into the day, dear Cancer, and then a Full Moon occurs in Cancer this morning. This can bring a personal matter to a head, perhaps in the form of an epiphany or other form of revelation, perhaps surrounding a relationship. There has been more attention to your relationships recently, and if this has been to a point of imbalance, circumstances are such that you’re reminded to take care of your own emotional needs. Today is very strong for conversations about a relationship or with a partner. There is willingness to entertain new ideas and others’ perspectives. You are not caught up in petty matters now, and more interested in cooperating and sharing common goals.
The Moon reaches Full this morning, dear Leo, marking a culmination, possibly of a work, service, or health matter. A reminder to attend to your spiritual, emotional, and mental health needs can arrive now, or an epiphany that propels you forward. You might discover that you have support available from behind the scenes or an unexpected source, and even if you don’t take it, it’s good to know you have some backup. There can be the opportunity to share a bit of your private self, or to help guide others towards better living. Today’s energies are good for sharing ideas and problem solving. You might thoroughly benefit from, and enjoy, making plans related to money, work, and health.
The Full Moon this morning lights up your sector of aspirations, ideals, community, and friendships, dear Virgo. There can be a sudden need for your help or support, or a culmination of a friendship matter, group project, or romantic relationship. Whatever comes to light now provides you with important insight into a brewing problem, and you are likely to feel purged and empowered as a result. A partner could be supportive, or the matter can strongly relate to close relationships. Good energy is with you for feeling valuable and valued as Mercury and Jupiter connect to one another, and in good relation to your sign. It’s a fine day for personal influence and creative self-expression. It’s also a time for rising above small problems and seeing life for its positive points.
A Full Moon occurs in your sector of career, reputation, and public standing this morning, dear Libra, bringing a project to a culmination, new light to a matter, and emotions to the surface. You may be in the position to show off your professional and responsible side, and possibly even thrust into the spotlight or into a leadership role. There can be revelations about your career and responsibilities. Watch for displays or outbursts, as they can be more impactful now than usual. There is good energy for discussions about personal or family matters, as people are especially reasonable, fair, and thinking in positive ways. An attitude that any problem can be resolved with willingness and effort can boost your spirits and relationships.
A Full Moon occurs this morning and illuminates a matter of spirit, adventure, or learning, dear Scorpio. For some of you, a project turns a corner or you are ready to publish or announce an endeavor. An idea that you’ve been working on might blossom now. Wise counsel figures strongly today, even if emotions are running high. There can be breakthrough, positive thinking, particularly with or about friends and groups, as well as long-term plans that put a spring in your step. This is an excellent time for writing, particularly about your feelings toward someone or for professional aims, such as promotion or publicity work.
A Full Moon occurs this morning, dear Sagittarius, and this can bring a revelation or illumination of a matter surrounding intimate or financial matters. This is a good time for rediscovering your roots and for getting in touch with your innermost wants and needs. With Mercury and your ruler, Jupiter, in positive aspect, problem solving is enhanced, particularly with regards to work, financial, and other practical or mechanical matters. Your vision of an issue is large, and with a broader perspective, the details of any plan seem to fall into place. With more faith in your abilities and in your worth now, it could be a good time to attract positive experiences.
A Full Moon occurs this morning, dear Capricorn, bringing a relationship matter to light or a personal epiphany. Something that’s been brewing inside of you, perhaps left unacknowledged, reaches a head. Some of you could be moved to make an announcement, and in fact, you have quite a bit of impact now. If your close relationships have been lacking your attention lately, this is a time when you’ll be called upon to balance things out. It’s another day for being generous and forthcoming. This is a strong day for communicating, sharing, and expressing your ideas and beliefs. Learning, publishing, and transportation are favorable. There can be a new look at an old problem.
There is a Full Moon occurring this morning, dear Aquarius, and it can stimulate or bring to light a service-related or spiritual matter. Information surfacing or feelings stimulated now help to push your life forward, towards making important improvements and adjustments. This can be a time when you feel motivated to change your lifestyle for the better or to improve your work and daily life. This is also a good idea day in general, particularly related to matters of the past and how to learn from and move past them. You may be turned to for advice. While private time is desired and beneficial today, you can also feel some need to connect with others, so that you may end up playing a supportive, helpful role.
There is a Full Moon this morning, dear Pisces, and this lunation can act to pull out personal revelations or new awareness of an old matter, likely revolving around romance, personal goals, friendships, or creative matters. You might become aware of your feelings for or about someone. There can be a strong urge to create, share, and express yourself now. It’s a strong time for celebrating, creating, and sharing your feelings. There can be quite a focus on the exchange of ideas. A rewarding conversation can happen now, and you may be mapping out a long-term plan that is motivating and exciting.