As a follow-on to my recent Happy Summer Solstice blog, did you see the moon last night (June 23)? This full moon was the largest and brightest moon of the year, appearing ~14% bigger and ~30% brighter than other full moons of 2013.
This is because the moon is currently at perigee, which means the point in the orbit of an object orbiting the earth that is nearest to the center of the earth. Since the moon at perigee appears so large and bright, it is popularly called a "Super Moon."
Now, casual observers might not be able to tell that the moon seemed larger than usual, but it was fairly apparent that the moon was much brighter.
Around 1:00 a.m. this morning, my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) and I turned off all of the lights outside out house and spent some time standing in our back yard looking at the moon, which was bright enough to fully illuminate everything. The strangest thing was that all of the birds were awake. Well, to be honest, I can't say with certainty that they were ALL awake – some of them may have been snoozing – but a large number were chirping merrily away; it was almost like we were listening to the dawn chorus.
This led me to ponder something I once saw on a science program on television. Billions of years ago, the moon was much closer to the earth. At the time this program was talking about, the moon would have had an apparent diameter six times larger than today, and the resulting tides would have been hundreds of feet high … now, that would have been something to see!
Returning to the present, although I've never actually seen any of the following myself, the moon can – on occasion – appear with different colors. For example, the term "blue moon" has traditionally been used to describe a second full moon in a single solar calendar month, which happens every two to three years (seven times in the Metonic cycle of 19 years). Due to the rarity of this occurrence, the phrase "once in a blue moon" may be used to describe a rare event. Having said all this, in certain atmospheric conditions (typically caused by volcanic eruptions or exceptionally large fires that launch particles high into the atmosphere), the moon can actually appear to be blue:
The moon can also appear to be different colors due to the scattering of light by the atmosphere. This can remove the shorter wavelength colors (violet, blue, green) leaving only the longer wavelength colors (yellow, orange, red).
I must admit that I would love to see these different colored moons. I also wonder that if particles of dust in the air from volcanoes and/or fires can cause the moon to appear blue, might it also be possible for different sized particles to make it appear violet
? Do you have any knowledge of such an occurrence? Also, have you seen an orange or red or blue (or green or violet) moon with your own eyes?
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