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Big Bright Full Moon at Perigee on Dec 12

Started by curtrenz, 12/08/2008 09:50AM
Posted 12/08/2008 09:50AM | Edited 12/08/2008 10:04AM Opening Post
Look for an especially large and bright Full Moon later this week. The Full Moon of 2008 DEC 12 will occur very near perigee. That perigee will be the closest between the centers of the Moon and Earth since 1993 and until 2016. The Earth is not far from its early January perihelion. That enhances the brightness of reflected sunlight. The closest perigees occur when they coincide with a Full Moon and the Earth near perihelion. Since this month’s Full Moon will be happening near the Winter Solstice, it will appear especially high near local midnight for observers north of the tropics. Where there is snow on the ground the lighting effect may be breathtaking.

For North Americans the Moon will be fullest and closest during midday on Friday the 12th. But the difference will be barely noticeable during the two nights on either side, so in essence we’ll be seeing the effect twice. The Moon will be in opposition from the Sun on December 12 at 16:37 UT, and I calculate geocentric maximum illumination of 99.9% for 17:02 UT. Geocentric perigee of 356,566 km will occur on the 12th at 21:40 UT.

I’ve created a panoramic graphic that illustrates the declinations, distances and apparent angular diameters of the next 15 Full Moons. Since the distances between Earth and Full Moons repeat within a cycle of about 14 synodic months, the graphic shows a complete cycle with the Full Moon near perigee at each end. It can be seen by clicking:

Photos and descriptions of this month’s Full Moon would be welcome additions to this thread.

For astronomical graphics, including
monthly wallpaper calendar, visit:

Curt Renz
Posted 12/12/2008 06:53PM | Edited 12/12/2008 07:09PM #1
Here's an image I took this evening. Quite a nice moon to observe but I just had to take a photo. This was taken with a Nikon D40 attached to a William Optics 66mm Petzval. 1/320 second exposure @ ISO 400. Cropped and mild curve adjustment in Photoshop to bring out a bit more detail.

I know I probably should have taken a wide-angle shot at moonrise to give it some scale as opposed to the close-up, but I was busy with the kiddoes.


Attached Image:

intelhawk's attachment for post 126818

Meade 12" Lightbridge
Celestron CGEM
AstroTelescopes 80mm ED Refractor
Williams Optics 66mm Petzval
Orion Skyquest XT6 Classic
Nikon D40 DSLR
Posted 12/12/2008 11:27PM #2
Here's a somewhat mediocre shot of the Moon Before Yule that I took afocally through my apertured-masked 80mm f/5 Orion ShortTube 80 achromat and a Sony DSC-S600 point and shoot digital camera.

Dave Mitsky

Attached Image:

Dave Mitsky's attachment for post 126825

Chance favors the prepared mind.

De gustibus non est disputandum.
Posted 12/12/2008 11:49PM #3
Here's one without the aperture mask.

Dave Mitsky

Attached Image:

Dave Mitsky's attachment for post 126827

Chance favors the prepared mind.

De gustibus non est disputandum.