When you go out tonight to look at the moon, you may see a surprisingly large one, especially if you watch it rise shortly after 7:30. That’s because the moon is closer to us now than it has been anytime in the past 18 years or so. The moon’s elliptical orbit allows it to drift close (perigee) and far (apogee) from the earth as it completes its circuit, and this month the full moon occurs almost exactly (within one hour) at the time the moon is at perigee. This should make for a “super moon” which will be some 14% larger and about 30% brighter than an ordinary full moon, according to NASA.
I took these shots of the rising moon last night at moonrise, just 24 hours ahead of the rise of the “super moon.” Last night’s moon was pretty impressive, and the clear sky and mild weather here on the Island gave us a nice theater in which to watch the show. The golf course, empty of golfers at moonrise, provided safe paths to unobstructed views of the eastern horizon while still offering a treeline to lend perspective to the full moon. That perspective is important if you plan to photograph the moon, and if you choose the perspective carefully you may be able to capture a winning photograph that preserves the impact of the “super moon” of 2011.