On Christmas, a rare full moon

In December 1977, Jimmy Carter was president and George Lucas’ Star Wars, released six months earlier, had become the highest grossing film of all time. It was also the last time a full moon occurred on Christmas. Until today.

Today marks the first Christmas full moon in 38 years, and it will be the last until 2034. Known as a full cold moon, the last of the year, it peaked Friday morning at 6:11 a.m. EST.

John Keller is deputy project scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, which has been orbiting the moon, and studying the lunar surface since 2009.

“As we look at the moon on such an occasion, it’s worth remembering that the moon is more than just a celestial neighbor,” Keller told NASA. “The geologic history of the moon and Earth are intimately tied together such that the Earth would be a dramatically different planet without the moon.”

Here are some of the stunning photos snapped last night and today: