October’s “Extra Full” Moon

This Friday morning, at 12.51am EDT, the moon will reach its “full” phase, shining down brightly on the landscape below. Does it look a little brighter to you? Perhaps a little bigger? Well, you are correct.

This month’s full moon has the advantage of taking place only six hours before the moon’s closest approach to the earth, or perigee. October’s full moon is 14% larger and 30% brighter than other full moons this year.

This month the moon is only 356,754 km (221,676 miles) from the earth, which is the closest of the year 2007. Conversely, on November 9th the moon will be at its furthest point (apogee) from the earth, at 406670 km (252693 miles). The “smallest” full moon of 2007 was in April, when the full moon was 406326 km (252479 miles) from the earth.

The moon orbits the earth in an ellipse (see diagram), with an average distance of 384,400 km (238,855 miles). This distance changes within about 48,280 km (30,000 miles) between apogee and perigee.

This month’s moon is also the Hunter’s Moon, which is always the full moon next after the Harvest Moon.

So if it’s clear Thursday night, go on out and check out the full moon. Do you feel a little closer to it? Is it brightening your evening? Relax and bathe in the soft glow of our celestial neighbor.

(Click here for an image of the perigee full moon and apogee full moon)

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