As we pulled out of the driveway tonight, we were greeted by the sight of a giant moon lifting over the trees to the east. It was fat and full and seemed exceptionally huge, and Wayne and I both commented on its beauty as we made our way to our destination. Yesterday's storms are long gone so the sky was clear and black, making the perfect backdrop for the white-gold light it was giving off. It was an amazing sight.
And then the weather lady told me during my nightly news that it really was bigger and brighter...the biggest and brightest it's been in the last 15 years. The moon orbits the Earth in a wobbly oval pattern so it's distance from the Earth varies considerably. Tonight the moon became full at the point in that pattern where it is closest to the Earth, and that made it about 30% larger and 14% brighter than other full moons this year.
Of course, the moon always seems larger when it first rises than it does when it's higher in the sky. And when the moon is full, that is a regular topic of conversation in our little circle of friends with Dr. Dale taking great delight in pointing out it is merely an illusion. Then we debate about whether it is because of the atmosphere close to the Earth's surface or merely that seeing the moon against trees and houses gives us a sense of proportion that doesn't exist when it's overhead. Conversation is never dull in our group...there's always something interesting being bantered about.
You won't have to wait fifteen years if you missed tonight's exceptionally large moon; it happens again November 14, 2016. I'm betting though that it will still look pretty awesome when it comes up on Saturday night.