Sunday, November 13, 2016

Supermoon! Well, Really an Excuse to Be Out at Night on the Tuolumne River

The SUPERMOON is really a lot of unnecessary hype that doesn't really mean much. You'd think the gigantic moon would be grazing the outer edge of our atmosphere and causing supervolcano eruptions and earthquakes. I'm sure people will be drawing erroneous conclusions about the tragic earthquake earlier today in New Zealand, but there is very little actual correlation between the position of the earth, moon and sun (see this USGS note on the subject). Earthquakes happen when they happen.

Supermoons are only a bit larger than the average size of the disk of the moon in the sky, around 10-11%, but a fair bit brighter, about 30%. You can compare the full moon from tonight (above) with the size of the moon just prior to the lunar eclipse of April 2015 (below). Still, "they" are saying this is the closest the moon has been to the Earth since 1948. I guess that is something.
Really though, the value of the hype is getting people to go outside and see what is happening in the sky. We made it an excuse to go out to Robert's Ferry Bridge on the Tuolumne River in the Sierra Nevada Mother Lode. It was exceedingly pleasant to stand on the bridge, listening to the water gurgling under the bridge supports. Things were swimming in the river (we didn't know what; it was dark), owls were hooting in the trees, and a pack of coyotes were howling in the distance. One of my time exposures turned out pretty well (below). It was a peaceful moment on a beautiful river.