San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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January 11th, 2009
Brightest moon of the year comes to town

By ANDY SEVILLA
Associate Editor

The biggest and brightest moon for 2009 arrived as the year’s first week came to an end.

The Wolf Moon, so named from Native American folklore, was 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than an ordinary full moon. The moon took on such radiance because it happens to be on a portion of its orbit passing closest to the Earth.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said it remains possible that another moon of such fullness and brightness will appear later this year, though it’s not likely. The moon takes 29.5 days to orbit the planet.

The moon shined its brightest at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday. Jan. 10, but the sky was also glorified with its strong light on Friday, Jan. 9, and Sunday, Jan. 11.

“When the moon was first rising it looked awesome, it was just big and bright and just looked full of life,” said Chad Austin, a San Marcos resident. “Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come this year. We’re starting off 2009 with strong light.”

According to NASA, the moon’s orbit around Earth is not a circle, but an ellipse, which provides for one side of its orbit to come 50,000 kilometers (approximately 31,000 miles) closer to the planet than the other. Astronomers call this phenomenon, “perigee.” It occurs once or twice per year. The largest full moon of 2008 arrived in December.

“It’s beautiful. I love full moons,” said Katy O’Bannon, a Texas State University student.

A shot of the perigree moon taken by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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