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1/29/10: Moon at Perigee, Full at 11

January 29, 2010

Last night’s almost full moon rose well before the sunset (3:50 moonrise, 5:20 sunset). My small boy and I watched it rise above the trees and shrubs as pillowy clouds picked up tangerine and mango, peach and orange. Our living room was filled with apricot light.

Tonight the moon is full at 10:18pm PST. For us, it rises at 5:05pm and the sunset’s at 5:21pm. Also in the night sky is Mars in its closest approach since 2007, and at sunset, you can watch bright Jupiter go down soon after the sun. If you’re watching all this on the coast, you might notice also that the tide is SUPER low tonight at sunset (and for the next few days as well!) It’s also unusually high.

The moon is also at perigee which means it’s the closest it will be to earth in 2010. According,  tonight it will be about 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter than lesser full Moons of the year.

Pictured is Alps in France on the night the moon was at perigee in 2009 (APOD) Titled “Largest Full Moon of 2009 Credit & Copyright goes to Vincent Jacques Sky Shows.

APOD explains the phenomenon this way: The large angular extent of the full Moon was caused by the Moon being unusually close to Earth during its full phase. Because the Moon circles the Earth in an elliptical orbit, its angular size depends on how close the Moon is to closest approach (perigee) or farthest distance (apogee). Even so, the Moon’s was only about 15 percent larger in area and brightness than a more typical full Moon. In this image, a dramatically positioned Moon is seen rising above the Alps from Breil-sur-Roya in the southeast of France. Taken with an ordinary digital camera but extraordinary timing, the image also captured a crossing jet plane.

Regardless of the explanation, the moon will indeed seem more full than usual. So go see! Personally, I have  a long standing tradition of enjoying a shot of tequila or mezcal on a full moon. So here’s to you! And please subscribe!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2010 2:24 am

    the moon did seem unusually large tonight…now I know why :)

  2. January 31, 2010 2:23 am

    lovely photo.

    I was reading about this full moon, the wolf moon, that it was the largest and brightest of the year. I have friends who pay more attention to the cycles, I always look up surprised and amazed and sometimes not wanting to know anything more.

    Last night, during this wonderful moon, a very loved poet, Gabrielle Bouliane, left this earth. She was 43. I may always think of her, now, on full moons.

  3. January 31, 2010 5:05 pm

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Nathan!

    Danika, sorry to hear about your friend–but it seems like it was time…That’s a lovely poem you wrote about her and that’s cool that Paul also posted a poem in the comments. I encourage readers to go see what she’s talking about here:

    Danika also posted a youtube of her poet friend performing.

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