Friday, 12 December 2008

the perigee and the full moon

Girls and boys come out to play,
The moon doth shine as bright as day;
Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,
And come to your playmates in the street;
Come with a whoop, come with a call,
Come with a good will, or come not at all;
Up the ladder and down the wall,
A halfpenny loaf will serve us all.

Big moon rising...

The full moon that rises Friday evening will be the biggest and brightest in the sky in 15 years, say astronomers.

That's because the moon will be closer to the Earth than usual. The moon travels around the Earth in an elliptical orbit, meaning it has moments where it is relatively close, (its perigee) and moments when it is farther away, (its apogee).

But it's a relatively rare occurrence when the moon reaches its perigee during a full moon, as it will Friday night. It hasn't happened since 1993.

The moon will be about 356,567 kilometres from the Earth on Friday night, about 30,000 km closer than normal.

As a result, the U.S. space agency NASA said it will appear about 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than it normally does. The effect will be particularly pronounced as it rises and sets, due to an optical illusion that makes the moon appear larger as it nears the horizon.

The moon's close proximity will also produce stronger than usual tides.

CBC News, Friday, December 12, 2008 | 1:32 PM ET

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