Sunset + (super?)moonrise on the Potomac River

20 03 2011

Michael and I ventured out to the Mount Vernon Parkway before 7:00 p.m. this evening to scout out a good spot to wait for the much-anticipated and much-heralded “Supermoon.” I’m sorry to have to report that I was a tiny bit disappointed. I confess that I was hoping for that end-of-the-world-large-encroaching-orb-could-swallow-us-whole-fodder-for-a-science-fiction-movie effect, but it didn’t happen.

Yes, it was a lovely moon—slightly larger than usual and a bit brighter. I guess I was expecting it to flood the horizon so fully that I would have to take off my Nikkor 80-400 zoom lens and put on the 50mm just to catch it all in my viewfinder. So large that I would hear audible gasps from the neighboring photographers, then perhaps we would spontaneously hold hands and break into song (Kumbaya, perhaps?). Didn’t happen.

The moon I photographed in Huntsville, Alabama a few years ago seemed a whole lot larger and a lumen or two brighter than tonight’s “Supermoon.” You can view that posting here. I was, however, taken in by the sunset’s show earlier.

Hey! Guess what? I was just ready to publish this post and decided to Google this search: “supermoon was disappointing tonight,” just to see if anyone had the same reaction that I did.

I found this on space.com: On Saturday night, the moon will arrive at perigee at 19:09 UT (3:09 p.m. Eastern Time). Its distance from the Earth at the moment will be 221,565 miles. But just over three years ago, on Dec. 12, 2008, which was also the night of a full moon, the moon reached perigee at 21:39 UT (4:39 p.m. Eastern Time) at a distance of 221,559 miles, about 6 miles closer than Saturday night’s perigee distance. So it seems Saturday night’s supermoon will actually be just a little less super than the full moon of Dec. 2008. (You can read skywatching columnist Joe Rao’s full article here.)

Why do I find this so interesting? Well, I photographed that moon near the Huntsville Airport in December 12, 2008! So my eyes (and my memory) did remember a more impressive sky that night than tonight. Unlike tonight, I wasn’t even hunting for it—my friend Sue had picked me up from the airport and I asked her to pull over so I could get a few shots of the spectacular moon! Who would have thought that the moon being only six miles closer to the earth would make such a noticeable difference?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.



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December 12 Moon

17 12 2008

December 12 moon, photographed near the airport in Huntsville

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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