big moon january.jpg

If you missed December’s biggest full moon of 2008, tonight will be the biggest full moon of 2009. NASA has a nice article about it.

Johannes Kepler explained the phenomenon 400 years ago. The Moon’s orbit around Earth is not a circle; it is an ellipse, with one side 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other. Astronomers call the point of closest approach “perigee,” and that is where the Moon will be this weekend.
Perigee full Moons come along once or twice a year. 2008 ended with one and now 2009 is beginning with another. It’s the best kind of déjà vu for people who love the magic of a moonlit landscape.
January is a snowy month in the northern hemisphere, and the combination of snow + perigee moonlight is simply amazing. When the Moon soars overhead at midnight, the white terrain springs to life with a reflected glow that banishes night, yet is not the same as day. You can read a newspaper, ride a bike, write a letter, and at the same time count the stars overhead. It is an otherworldly experience that really must be sampled first hand.

  • Josh N

    Last night, I was leaving a friends home at 1am and it almost felt like dawn it was so bright.

  • Jeff

    “What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”

  • MB

    Here are some pictures I took of the moon through my telescope:


    Excellent reference Jeff, probably lost on a lot of the younger folks. Sort of reminds of the last interview with Brandon Lee, star of “The Crow”; he was quoting a book (Limitless Sky I believe? unsure of author). He was relating “how many times does a person see a full moon in their lives?” But when you think of the event, it seems very commonplace. But in reality, most people won’t watch a full moon rise more than a handfull of times.

    “Merry Christmas you ‘ole savings and loan!” :)


  • Patti Schiendelman

    Nice pics, thanks! And yeah, I love that scene in the movie. :)

  • Jeff

    Here is a link to a cool movie of 24 consecutive full moons that really give you an idea of how much the moon changes in apparent size over the course of two years: