Sometimes, when the stresses of life have us strung out, nothing can be more grounding than taking a pause to behold the grand spectacle of nature, to return us to a peaceful state of being. Tonight it seems the full moon is swooping in just in time to soothe our frazzled minds this frenzied holiday season. And, it’s even more special because it will be the biggest and brightest we’ve seen in 15 years!
Each month the Moon makes a full orbit around the Earth in a slightly oval-shaped path, and tonight it will swing by the Earth at its closest distance, or perigee. It will pass by 356,613km (221,595 miles) away, which is about 28,000km closer than average.
The unusual feature of tonight is that the perigee also coincides with a full moon, which will make it appear 14 per cent bigger and some 30 per cent brighter than most full moons this year – so long as the clouds hold off from blocking the view.
So grab a cup of cocoa and get blissed out marveling at the cosmic wonder that is the moon (scientists still can’t fully explain the super-size moon illusion). Your next chance won’t be until November 14, 2016.
Also, keep an eye out for the annual Geminid meteor shower visible for the next two nights. Because the moon is so exceptionally bright, your best bet is to look away from it for the best view of “shooting stars.”
Look Up Tonight for a Spectacular Treat in the Sky [Times Online UK]