July 2007’s Full Moon

The full moon for July rides low in the southern skies. It is not as low as the full moon of June, because of two things: the orbit around the earth, and it’s place on the ecliptic (the imaginary line in the sky that the sun follows).

The moon orbits the earth in a relatively even ellipse. The difference between being close to the earth (perigee) and far from the earth (apogee) is a scant 25000 miles (225,700 v. 252,000). So the moon, in it’s 27.32 day orbit around the earth, it stays approximately the same size. However, because it’s orbit is inclined to the ecliptic by 5 degrees, the moon can be above or below the ecliptic, and opposite of the sun.

When the sun is high in the sky (summer for the northern hemisphere) the full moon rides low. When the sun is low in the sky (winter) the full moon is high up in the sky on cold December nights.

Tonight is full moon. The moon will be at its “full” position at 8.48pm EDT, and rise at 9.18pm EDT. This month’s full moon is called th “Buck Moon” as the time when deer get their antlers. It is also called the “Thunder Moon” due to the prevalence of thunderstorms this time of year.

Whatever its name, it shines brightly in the night sky, casting pale shadows upon the earthly scene below, and sometimes bothering the sleep of individuals who don’t have curtains in their bedroom windows.

If you are interested in a nice little program that will tell you the rise and set times of the moon and the sun for your area, check out Moonrise. It was developed by a local doctor. It is shareware, and the proceeds go directly to his children.

Stay tuned next month, as August’s full moon will prove to be quite a treat. More on that later.

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