Tonight’s Full Moon is closest in 15 years

December 12, 2008

(ChattahBox) — Sky-watchers around the world will see the biggest and brightest full moon of 2008 tonight, weather permitting.  Although a full moon happens every month, this one will appear about 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than the other full moons seen so far this year. But this full moon is even more notable for the fact that it will be the closest Earth’s only natural satellite has come to its mother planet in 15 years, and the nearest until 2016.

The moon makes a trip around Earth every 29.5 days and it’s average distance from us is about 238,855 miles (384,400 km). The moon will be at its closest perigee—the nearest it gets to Earth during its egg-shaped orbit around our planet. 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. At its farthest from Earth, the moon is said to be at apogee. The moon’s farthest apogee for the year will occur a couple weeks later on December 26, when the natural satellite will be 252,650 miles (406,601 kilometers) from Earth.

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.


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