Friday, January 29, 2010
Tonight's Bright Moon
This was taken from my camcorder
And below is the video
Sky show tonight: Full moon, Mars close to Earth
Posted: 01/29/2010 11:48:07 AM PST
Updated: 01/29/2010 02:36:48 PM PST
Clouds willing, the sky will put on a show tonight: Both the full moon and Mars will be about as close to Earth as they get.
The moon, which will rise around 5:15 p.m., will be the closest full moon of 2010, occurring during the lunar perigee — the point in its cycle when the moon is closest to earth. It will appear about 15 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than a full moon at an average distance. Perigeal tides are also a little higher — but only by an inch or so.
As for Mars, it was a tad bit closer to Earth on Thursday, but the viewing is likely to be better tonight: It will be in opposition, meaning it is directly opposite the sun. Appearing as a bright reddish dot to the left of the
Perhaps to avert some of the weird hoopla that accompanied a good Mars viewing opportunity several years back ("it will look as big as the moon!" some people burbled), NASA hosted a live online chat this afternoon about the phenomenon. (The transcript will be posted at http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/index.html).
Of course, the wild card for Bay Area viewing is the visibility: Rain is forecast for this evening.
If it's clear, telescopes will be available for the usual Friday night free public viewing at the observatories of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills (9 p.m.-11 p.m.) and Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland (7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.).
And if the clouds don't cooperate? Saturday won't be bad viewing; in fact, the just-past-full moon will rise into darker skies, about 6:30 p.m. The full moons of February and March will also be within a day or so of the perigee, though they won't be quite as spectacular. And Mars will loom large again in a couple of years.