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Year's Biggest Full Moon Friday Night

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  • Year's Biggest Full Moon Friday Night

    The full moon Friday night will be the biggest one of the year as Earth's natural satellite reaches its closest point to our planet.

    Earth, the moon and the sun are all bound together by gravity, which keeps us going around the sun and keeps the moon going around us as it goes through phases. The moon makes a trip around Earth every 29.5 days. But the orbit is not a perfect circle.

    The moon's average distance from us is about 238,855 miles (384,400 km). Friday night it will be just 221,560 miles (356,567 km) away. It will be 14 percent bigger in our sky and 30 percent brighter than some other full moons during the year, according to NASA.

    Tides will be higher Friday night, too. Earth's oceans are pulled by the gravity of the moon and the sun. So when the moon is closer, tides are pulled higher. Scientists call these perigean tides, because the moon's closest point to Earth is called perigee. The farthest point on the lunar orbit is called apogee.

    Some other strange lunar facts:
    • The moon is moving away as you read this, by about 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) a year. Eventually it'll be torn apart as an expanding sun pushes the moon back toward Earth for a wrenching close encounter.
    • There is no proof the full moon makes people crazy.
    • Beaches are more polluted during full moon, owing to the higher tides.

    The moon will rise Friday evening right around sunset, no matter where you are. That's because of the celestial mechanics that produce a full moon: The moon and the sun are on opposite sides of the Earth, so that sunlight hits the full face of the moon and bounces back to our eyes.

    At moonrise, the moon will appear even larger than it will later in the night when it's higher in the sky. This is an illusion that scientists can't fully explain. Some think it has to do with our perception of things on the horizon vs. stuff overhead.

    Try this trick, though: Using a pencil eraser or similar object held at arm's length, gauge the size of the moon when it's near the horizon and again later when it's higher up and seems smaller. You'll see that when compared to a fixed object, the moon will be the same size in both cases.

    You can see all this on each night surrounding the full moon, too, because the moon will be nearly full, rising earlier Thursday night and later Saturday night.

    Interestingly, because of the mechanics of all this, the moon is never truly 100 percent full. For that to happen, all three objects have to be in a perfect line, and when that rare circumstance occurs, there is a total eclipse of the moon.
    Han: "We are all ready to win, just as we are born knowing only life. It is defeat that you must learn to prepare for"

  • #2
    Great post. I have always wondered whether the moon is actually bigger to our eyes (i.e. subtends more degrees of our retinal field of vision) when it is close the horizon than when it is up in the middle of the sky. I have had an debate about this for many years. I believe that it is because the earth's atmosphere has a magnifying effect on the moon when it is close to the horizon. My friend, a physicist, thinks that it is all relative and just a perceptual trick that my brain is playing.

    Wise.

    Originally posted by jhope View Post
    The full moon Friday night will be the biggest one of the year as Earth's natural satellite reaches its closest point to our planet.

    Earth, the moon and the sun are all bound together by gravity, which keeps us going around the sun and keeps the moon going around us as it goes through phases. The moon makes a trip around Earth every 29.5 days. But the orbit is not a perfect circle.

    The moon's average distance from us is about 238,855 miles (384,400 km). Friday night it will be just 221,560 miles (356,567 km) away. It will be 14 percent bigger in our sky and 30 percent brighter than some other full moons during the year, according to NASA.

    Tides will be higher Friday night, too. Earth's oceans are pulled by the gravity of the moon and the sun. So when the moon is closer, tides are pulled higher. Scientists call these perigean tides, because the moon's closest point to Earth is called perigee. The farthest point on the lunar orbit is called apogee.

    Some other strange lunar facts:
    • The moon is moving away as you read this, by about 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) a year. Eventually it'll be torn apart as an expanding sun pushes the moon back toward Earth for a wrenching close encounter.
    • There is no proof the full moon makes people crazy.
    • Beaches are more polluted during full moon, owing to the higher tides.

    The moon will rise Friday evening right around sunset, no matter where you are. That's because of the celestial mechanics that produce a full moon: The moon and the sun are on opposite sides of the Earth, so that sunlight hits the full face of the moon and bounces back to our eyes.

    At moonrise, the moon will appear even larger than it will later in the night when it's higher in the sky. This is an illusion that scientists can't fully explain. Some think it has to do with our perception of things on the horizon vs. stuff overhead.

    Try this trick, though: Using a pencil eraser or similar object held at arm's length, gauge the size of the moon when it's near the horizon and again later when it's higher up and seems smaller. You'll see that when compared to a fixed object, the moon will be the same size in both cases.

    You can see all this on each night surrounding the full moon, too, because the moon will be nearly full, rising earlier Thursday night and later Saturday night.

    Interestingly, because of the mechanics of all this, the moon is never truly 100 percent full. For that to happen, all three objects have to be in a perfect line, and when that rare circumstance occurs, there is a total eclipse of the moon.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Wise Young View Post
      Great post. I have always wondered whether the moon is actually bigger to our eyes (i.e. subtends more degrees of our retinal field of vision) when it is close the horizon than when it is up in the middle of the sky. I have had an debate about this for many years. I believe that it is because the earth's atmosphere has a magnifying effect on the moon when it is close to the horizon. My friend, a physicist, thinks that it is all relative and just a perceptual trick that my brain is playing.

      Wise.
      I'd have to side with your friend on that one, Wise. Seeing the moon in relation to distant objects on the horizon, like trees, makes it seem larger, when really we don't realize how small those distant trees actually are in our field of vision.

      Thanks for the cool post jhope. Do you ever visit the Bad Astronomy Blog? Good stuff.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Zero View Post
        I'd have to side with your friend on that one, Wise. Seeing the moon in relation to distant objects on the horizon, like trees, makes it seem larger, when really we don't realize how small those distant trees actually are in our field of vision.

        Thanks for the cool post jhope. Do you ever visit the Bad Astronomy Blog? Good stuff.
        From http://funnbee.info/2008/08/playing-with-moon.html



        Comment


        • #5
          nice post jhope. Love learning new stuff.
          oh well

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm watching the moon come up. It's definitely huge. I'm surprised how far north it's coming up. It must be almost as far from the ecliptic as possible.

            Comment


            • #7
              neat idea for a post JHope i'll make sure to watch the skies tonight
              T6/T7 Incomplete Since June 7th 2008
              Walking part-time with KAFOs & Walker
              *Never Quit Pushing*

              http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm...endID=20290962

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              • #8
                Awesome! No wonder I had a great day!

                Comment


                • #9


                  And then moon was there.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That is a cool post thanks for sharing. I'd love to see that moon but no chance been raining and trying to snow all morning and just clouds everywhere tonight. Oh well maybe next month.
                    And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed ... Dr. Seuss - Oh, the Places You'll Go!

                    Comment


                    • #11


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                      • #12
                        An year old one, funny though;

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I noticed there was something odd about the moon tonight as David and I were out shopping earlier.

                          (I had to replace Christmas tree lights as it seemed every set I had this year went kaput! -- I've had them for what must be close to ten years though so I guess I received my monies' worth.)
                          Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

                          T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Leif View Post


                            And then moon was there.
                            I am Ccacer so I will get so laid

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              the moon is moving away from earth [forgot number but it is like 1cm/year

                              the moon stabilizes the earth's axis, without it the axis would move 90 degrees back and forth creating drastic climate changes.

                              the moon dictates millions of living things growth and activity as well as climate.

                              without the moon life as we know it wouldn't exist.

                              i watch discovery science channel. i am starting to fall in love with science again and teach my 6 yr old, and twin 4 year olds. maybe i can make them into little wise youngs? lol
                              Han: "We are all ready to win, just as we are born knowing only life. It is defeat that you must learn to prepare for"

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