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HUGE Moon…

moonrise

After it rises tonight, around sunset, if you think the Full Moon looks huge you’ll be right. Tonight the Moon is at its closest point to us for the whole year, so it will look a LOT bigger and brighter than usual.

The Moon’s orbit around the Earth isn’t a perfect circle, so it’s closer to us at some times than at others. The Moon’s average distance from Earth is 238,000 miles. Tonight it will be “just” 221,000 miles. But that 17,000 miles of difference means that tonight’s Full Moon will look 14% bigger and shine 30% more brightly than usual, so it will look especially striking in the sky. This picture shows just how much the Moon’s size changes in the sky between “apogee” (furthest away point) and “perigee” (closest point)…

lunar-apogee-perigee-2006

You’ll notice the difference especially at and just after moonrise when the Moon will look simply huge hanging above the fells and houses and treetops… it won’t actually BE any bigger, it’s just what astronomers call “The Moon Illusion”: for some reason our brains “see” the Moon as bigger when it’s close to the horizon than we do when it’s higher in the sky. Experts think it’s a perspective thing, something to do with our brains comparing it to objects of a known size, but I don’t think anyone’s really sure. But it doesn’t actually matter! Just go and look at the Moon tonight, and enjoy the free sky show 🙂

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3 Responses

  1. wow
    This is so cool on the size of the moons!!
    Its awsome…I love the moon in all its diffrent sizes and shapes!
    I saw the full moon last saterday!! is was beutiful!
    any way…nice job on the research!♥

  2. wow, i wish i caould see the moon huge, close, and bright.great infooo 🙂 nice piccc

  3. Hey There, I love the image at the top. Is it yours? I’m looking for a couple of pictures for my bands bandcamp page and this photo came up in a google search and it would work perfectly. If it can be used please email me at bookblueskyblack@gmail.com.

    Thank you!

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