Friday, December 12, 2008

Once in a Blue Moon

Great good heavens, what is that THING???

Oh wait, it's just the Moon, 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual. And that's only because it's moved 50,000 miles closer to the Earth.


Don't be alarmed: it's not that our mighty satellite is crashing down upon our very heads. The Moon just has an elliptical orbit, is all.


Look, quit doing that.

An elliptical orbit is one that's not a perfect circle. As a result it's closer to us sometimes than at others. Tonight the Moon happens to be full just as it makes its closest approach to Earth. That makes it look huge -- huger than it will again until 2016.

Run out and see it just after sunset wherever you are. The Moon will be rising and, with trees and houses in the foreground, it will look even bigger! If you have a friend that doesn't know about this phenomenon, take them outside, point at the sky and shriek. It could make for an interesting weekend.

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