Sky Show: Year’s brightest full moon and Mars delight tonight


Moon images at apogee and perigee show why tonight’s full moon will be the year’s brightest.

(Images courtesy Anthony Ayiomamitis Athens, Greece.)

The Ojibwe call this the “Deep Snow Moon.” We might just call it awsome.

Tonight’s full moon will be 14% wider and 30% brighter than some of the lesser full moons this year. The reason? It’s called perigee.

The moon’s orbit is an ellipse, tonight marks the point on the ellipse where the moon is physically closest to earth in its orbit. The average distance between the moon and earth is 238,855 miles. Tonight the moon will be about 31,070 miles closer. Because the moon is closer, it will appear larger and brighter in the night sky.

Moon and Mars close by tonight:

The added impact of high reflectivity snow cover will make for a very bright night in Minnesota. It’s so bright that you can almost navigate as if it was twilight.

This is a great night for sky watching in Minnesota if you can brave the winter chill.

An added bonus tonight is the close proximity of the brightest Mars in a 4-year period and the full moon. Mars and the moon will be very close together in the night sky tonight. Look in the eastern sky after sunset and follow the pair as they move nearly overhead by midnight.


(Image courtesy NASA)

Another excellent resource for all things astronomical

Enjoy the spectacular sights in the sky tonight!