On November 22, 2018, despite the glare from the full or nearly full moon, you might be able to spot two major signposts in the constellation Taurus the Bull. Look first for the bright star Aldebaran, part of the V-shaped face of the Bull. Then look for the dipper-shaped Pleiades star cluster, in the Bull’s shoulder.
In North America, we often call the November full moon the Beaver Moon or Frosty Moon. In the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s the opposite time of year, the November full moon is a fixture of the spring season rather than autumn. But no matter where you live worldwide, this November 2018 full moon shines directly in front of the constellation Taurus the Bull, and presents the third and final full moon of this Northern Hemisphere autumn or Southern Hemisphere spring.
By season, we mean the time period between the September equinox and the December solstice. Next month’s December full moon will occur less than one day after the December solstice – so we just miss having four moons this season.
The glare from the brilliant moon will make the mighty Bull appear quite meek over these next several nights. Despite the moonlit glare, you still might be able to spot the star Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster. If you can’t see Aldebaran or the Pleiades, try placing your finger over the moon to reduce its blinding presence.
The moon turns precisely full on November 23, 2018, at 05:39 Universal Time (UTC). Although the instant of full moon happens at the same time worldwide, the clock differs by time zone. For us in the United States, the full moon occurs on November 23, at 12:39 a.m. Eastern Time – yet on November 22 at 11:39 p.m. Central Time, 10:39 p.m. Mountain Time, 9:39 p.m. Pacific Time, 8:39 p.m. Alaskan Time and 7:39 p.m. Hawaiian Time.
Although the moon actually looks full to the eye for a few days in a row, the moon is astronomically full for only an instant – when it’s 180 degrees opposite the sun in ecliptic longitude. At full moon, the sun-moon elongation equals 180 degrees. Click here to know the present elongation of the sun and moon, remembering that a positive number means a waxing moon and a negative number a waning moon.
Since the moon stays more or less opposite the sun throughout the night at the vicinity of full moon, look for the moon (and the constellation Taurus) to rise in the east around sunset, climb highest up for the night around midnight and to set in the west around sunrise.
Because the full moon resides opposite the sun in the northern constellation Taurus the Bull, the full moon’s path across the night sky will resemble that of the sun’s path across the May daytime sky. In May, the sun resides to the north of the Earth’s equator, and therefore rises north of due east and sets north of due west. For the Northern Hemisphere, that means this northerly full moon will also rise and set to the north of due east and west. Therefore, for the Northern Hemisphere, this November full moon will mimic the high path of the springtime sun; and in the Southern Hemisphere, it’ll imitate the path of the autumn sun.
Bottom line: Full moon falls on November 23, 2018, at 05:39 UTC. That means that – for the Americas – the night of November 22 will feature this month’s fullest moon.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.