We used to live in a house that was perfect for astronomical viewing. No, it wasn’t in the Atacama Desert. In fact, it was in a small city neighborhood that did cut down on viewing dimmer objects. But what it did have was a skylight strategically placed over the bed in the master bedroom so that, with your head on the pillow, the moon and planets were right in your line of vision. The kids and I did a lot of skywatching of events like lunar eclipses in our pajamas without even stepping outdoors.
My current house doesn’t offer such perfect views, and my skywatching has dropped off. But last night I couldn’t help noticing what turns out to have been the brightest full moon of the year. (Photo cribbed from Spaceweather.com)
If the Moon seems a little bigger and brighter than usual tonight, it’s no illusion. The Full Moon on Friday is the closest of the year, making it just a little larger and brighter than other Full Moons in
But how much bigger? About 14 percent. And how much brighter? About 30 percent. Both compared to when the Moon is at the other extreme, when it is farthest away and at its smallest.
That’s because we have been enjoying the aftermath of a massive ice storm up here in the Northeastern United States, with our electricity going on and off all day. At about 10 p.m. last night all the lights in our neighborhood went out, but the glow coming in through the shades was as bright as if the street lights were still shining. Peeking out, it was like a giant spotlight was shining on our town. (Reminded me of City of Ember, which we just finished reading.) It must have been made even brighter by the ground, which was a sheet of ice-covered snow. The shadows of the leaf-less branches on the snow was amazingly crisp — I’m sorry now I didn’t think to grab my camera.
I didn’t actually see the moon last night, because I didn’t want to wake up the kid in the room on that side of the house. But this morning I looked out the dining room window and caught the moon as it set in the west. It was enormous. And then I checked the GeekDad writers’ hotline and saw the Discovery Channel link above. Cool.