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Yo Campers! Big Alert here! Saturday night will be the largest full moon we’ll see until 2016, 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than the average full moon. This is because the moon traverses an elliptical orbit around Earth every month, and currently it’s near perigee, the closest orbital point to Earth. Perigee full moons occur about once or twice each year, but this one will be bigger than most.
Since the weather forecast for much of the U.S. looks clear, this is an excellent chance for fine full-moon camping, hiking or ski touring/snowshoeing.
And here’s another secret: If you want to watch or photograph a full moonrise, don’t do it on the proper full moon night. Do your moonwatching the night before. Full moons rise when the horizon sky is fully dark. On the night before full moon, the lunar orb rises roughly 50 minutes before full darkness, allowing you to see and photograph both the bright disk, and the landscape around it. It’s usually round as a basketball on that night too, so I call these pre-full moonrises a ‘photographer’s moon.’
That means tonight (Friday, Jan 9th, 2009) is the night. So bundle up and get out there – or wait another seven years, because the world waits for no moon. –Steve Howe