I'm a day late for Skywatch Friday, but for once I don't have to chalk it up to my organizational challenges. I waited a day on purpose--so I could catch the perigee moon.
It was as if Friday's clouds prepared for the event all day, urging us to keep eyes on the sky.
These are the woods to the back of the house--the area decimated by Hurricane Isabel. But we're literally seeing the silver lining. The heavy woods would have blocked most of these cloud formations from our view.
So I'll get to the perigree moon in a moment--as I move from nature's sublimity to, well, what I like to sublimate. We weren't the only ones watching the sky, it seems. When Salix, Ranunculus and I walked down to the river, we saw these local denizens sky-gazing as well.
Yeah, those are buzzards on the gate to the boat ramp--or, as they prefer to be called, Cathartes aura (which seems way to lovely a way to denominate turkey vultures). There are collective nouns for vultures, and some of them are brilliant--a looming, a wake, a volume--but I'll go with my favorite: a committee of vultures on a gate like this is a fairly rare sight. They congregate at night, in the tops of trees; otherwise, they're usually looking for a meal or eating one (and we saw no carcasses around). But I'll anthropomorphize and assume that they, too, were mesmerized by the sky--that is, until they caught a glimpse of Ranunculus and his petters.
But back to what these skies were forecasting. Perigee moons happen once a month--the "perigee" (as opposed to the "apogee") is the point at which a body in orbit is closest to what it orbits--in this case, the moon to the earth. But perigees are relative--in one month, the moon can be closer than it is in another month--and they can happen during any phase of the moon. Last night's perigee moon was special because it was a particularly close one and it occurred during a full moon, making it appear 14% larger and 30% brighter than it has since 1993 (that's according to NASA, so I'm sure they used their largeness- and brightness-measuring technology.
Me, I just had my camera. This is my much-photoshopped-and-nevertheless-still-lame attempt to shoot the moon late last night:
But this picture, taken at sunrise this morning, comes closer to capturing the impact. That bright light is the moon.
Happy skywatching--now I gotta get ready for Bloom Day (and prove I still have a garden . . .)
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