It’s like night and day

Photo of the moon taken Sunday, Dec. 3.Photo of the moon taken Sunday, Dec. 3.

This weekend’s full moon seemed to light up the night.

Those who thought it seemed a little brighter wouldn’t just be seeing things.

Author Gordon Johnston called this month’s moon a supermoon in an article posted on NASA’s moon website, moon.nasa.gov, titled “Moon Missive: the Next Full Moon is the Frost Moon, the Moon Before Yule, and a Supermoon.”

Gordon Johnston wrote that this weekend’s full moon occurred about 17 hours before perigee, or the Moon’s closest approach to the Earth in its orbit. Johnston went on to say that this weekend’s full moon was the first of three supermoons.

He also explained why the moon would appear larger.

“At the time of the full Moon, the Moon will only be 306 miles further away from the Earth than it will be at its closest (perigee), making it appear 13.6 percent larger in diameter … ,” the article said.

Johnston’s article also said that the position of the Earth to the sun was also a factor in the moon’s brightness.

“The sunlight reaching and reflecting off the Moon this time of year is about 7 percent more intense (than at aphelion in early July), making winter-time supermoons even brighter,” Johnston wrote.

Various other sites and Johnston referred to this past weekend’s moon as the Frost Moon.

However, even other websites, listed December’s full moon as the Cold Moon.

A post on www.timeanddate.com titled “Traditional Full Moon Names,” said that the full moon in November is known as the Frosty Moon and also the Beaver Moon.

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Lunar halo

Frost moon or not, it was some frosty crystals that were responsible for a large ring around the moon on Saturday night.

The “large ring or circle of light around the sun or moon is called a 22-degree halo by scientists,” according to an article titled “Why a halo around the sun or moon?” posted last year on earthsky.org.

The article said that the “halos are a sign of high thin cirrus clouds drifting 20,000 feet or more above our heads.”

The clouds contain ice crystals that refract the light and have to be positioned just right for people to see a halo around the moon, according to the post.

Meanwhile, the site mentioned the old weather saying, “ring around the moon means rain soon.”

The article said there is some truth the rhyme and that high cirrus clouds often come before a storm.

An article titled “Ring Around The Moon?” on the www.farmersalmanac.com, also said “weather lore says a lunar halo is the precursor of impending unsettled weather, especially during the winter months.”

However, Saturday’s halo didn’t appear to be a harbinger of any storms over the weekend.

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Meanwhile, Friday’s sunset exploded in to a several brilliant colors.

A piece titled “Why Autumn Sunsets Are So Vivid,” posted on weather.com explained the science behind sunsets and why autumn and winter sunsets appear more vivid than any other time of the year.

The article went on to detail how the colors are scattered across the sky.

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“Blue light has a short wavelength, so it gets scattered easiest by air molecules, such as nitrogen and oxygen. Longer wavelength lights – reds and oranges – are not scattered as much by air molecules,” the article said.

“During sunrise and sunset, light from the sun must pass through much more of our atmosphere before reaching our eyes, so it comes into contact with even more molecules in the air. Much of the blue light gets scattered away, making the reds and oranges more pronounced,” it continued.

The post when on to say that dry clean Canadian air sweeping across the country in autumn and winter means more colors of the spectrum are visible.

An article by Amanda Fiegl titled “Red Sky at Night: The Science of Sunsets,” posted on the National Geographic website, also explained why autumn and winter sunsets appear more colorful.

In the piece, Fiegl contacted Stephen Corfidi, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist, for information on sunsets.

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Corfidi said “people see bright ones in the fall and winter particularly, especially in the East, because the air along the path of the ray of sunlight tends to be dryer and cleaner.”

He added that the hazy weather of summer often does not produce colorful sunsets.

“In areas with a lot of haze, you don’t typically see the types of sunsets that are likely to appear on a wall calendar…,” he added.

Corfidi went on to explain what makes a colorful sunset.

“Keep in mind that what we see with our human eyes is just a tiny part of the electromagnetic radiation that’s given off by the sun. That radiation contains a wide spectrum of wavelengths … Different colors are associated with different wavelengths,” he said.

“Depending on what happened to the light before it got to you, some of those visible wavelengths don’t even reach your eye. Portions of it are absorbed and filtered out in the atmosphere,” he continued.

“So really, there’s a good sunset every night; we just can’t always see it from the ground,” he said.

 


(A Walk in the Woods contains photos from newsroom staffer Anna Applegate’s daily jaunts around her neck of the woods. Tagging along on the treks are dogs, Buford, Sherman and Sadie, and goats, Kyle and Kennedy. Applegate manages the Good Times and can be emailed at bigdogs.thederrick@gmail.com.)