Sunday, January 31, 2010

Camila Moon

January is almost done. That's one twelfth of the year over already! Sadly, I feel like I'm still recuperating from the holidays. So perhaps it isn't surprising that I almost missed the first interesting astronomical happening of the new year: a giant, bright, full moon on Friday night.

This wasn't just any old big full moon either. This was the moon at perigee, that is, 50,000 km closer to the earth than any other full moon during the year. The reason is simple geometry: the moon doesn't describe a perfect circle around the earth. Instead, its path is that of an ellipse.

In short, that makes the moon appear 14% larger and almost 30% brighter at perigee than at its opposite extreme, apogee. And in case you might think that those technical terms rob this lunar phenomenon of its romance, Friday night's full moon is also called a "wolf moon". This term is supposedly derived from a Native American legend which said that the biggest full moon during this dark month would draw the local wolf packs out to cavort near villages and homesteads.

Life in Los Angeles is pretty well devoid of wolves, so I can't vouch for the
veracity of the legend. I can say that our home tends to revolve around one particular canine though, so I guess you could say that every full moon seen from here is a Camila Moon. Luckily, she's awfully tough to miss.


  1. I love being educated and entertained on a Monday morning. Thanks to your blog (well this one and the catnip post) I'm able to surprise my husband with "random" knowledge. Ha! Your dog is super cute. Mira would never wear a pirate suit.

  2. Great info and funny picture of Camila.

  3. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So cool. Camila has great taste in attire. She must take after her mom.

  4. I love full moons, but my doggie doesn't ever notice them...she does have her own pirate costume too, though.

  5. Great post...and educational as well.

  6. You have a very interesting blog! RE: your Dixie post - I'm from way South (Louisiana) and grew up with that song too, but I never knew the facts! Following now.

  7. Lol, Thanks tapirgal!

    Amber, your pup is too cute to need to dress up!

    Thanks everyone... Sarah, I love Louisiana! I'm hoping to get back there for a vacation one of these days!


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