Tue, 14 Dec 1999 19:18:57 +0100

This is slightly off-topic, but it will affect our ability to observe.
Plus, its interesting astronomical stuff.

Merry Christmas,


PS -- I don't have any reference material or links for this.  It is word of
mouth to me.


 Brightest Full Moon in 133 years on the Winter Solstice
 For the first time in the life of anyone around today, we'll see a full
 moon occur on the Winter solstice, Dec. 22nd, commonly called the first day
 of Winter. 
 Since a full moon on the Winter solstice occurs in conjunction with a
 lunar perigee (point in the moon's orbit that is closest to Earth),the moon
 will appear about 14% larger than it does  at apogee (the point in its
 elliptical orbit that is farthest from the Earth). Since the Earth is also
 several million miles closer to the sun at this time of the year than in
 summer, sunlight striking the moon is about 7% stronger making it brighter.
 Also, this will be the closest perigee of the Moon of the year since the
 moon's orbit is constantly deforming. If the weather is clear and there is
 snow cover where you live, it is believed that even car headlights will be
 superfluous. On December 21st, 1866 the Lakota Sioux took advantage of this
 combination of occurrences and staged a devastating retaliatory ambush on
 soldiers in Wyoming Territory. In layman's terms: It will be a super bright
 full moon, much more than the usual AND it hasn't happened this way for 133
 years! Our ancestors 133 years ago saw this. Our descendants 100 or so
 years from now will see this again.
 Pretty cool, eh?

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