The moon has captured the imagination of humans since time immemorial. It has guided travelers through the night and put smiles on the faces of children and lovers. It gives us our tides and, some would say, also shapes our emotions.

During the Alaska winter, the moon reflects off of the snow, illuminating the cold night with an almost unnatural brilliance. When combined with the northern lights, the heavenly display is breathtaking.

Last week's full moon is waning, but it will return Christmas week. Here's a chart of the moon phases for December, seen from Anchorage.

In late 2012, Alaskans were treated to a partial lunar eclipse. While faint, it was enough to keep some people up all night. This is also the time of year when a large full moon rises above downtown Anchorage, just as the sun is setting. Some of the best views of the moon over the city are from Point Woronzof. If you go with the intent of taking photos, bring a long telephoto lens, as downtown is about three miles away.