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Re: PC: C636's etc

> Bryan, I share your frustration with garbage on the internet.  
> However, this is not an e-mail hoax.  It was a front page story in 
> the Wall Street Journal last Friday.  

Apparently the WSJ is just reporting the gibberish from the Old Farmers
Almanac, a "journal" noted for its astronomical misinformation. In spite
of their notorious reputation, the non-scientific press gives them
credibility. It's sad when a paper with the Wall Street Journal's
reputation gets hoodwinked.

> The moon will appear 14% 
> larger in the sky on the 22nd and be brighter than usual because the 
> earth is at its perigee with the sun (closest point) at the winter 
> solstice (tomorrow 21st) while the moon will be at its perigee 
> (closest position to the earth) while also being full.  

The difference will be trivial. 1912 had the brightest moon in the 133
year period, and the increased brightness was slightly less than one
quarter magnitude over average.

> Both the 
> earth's orbit around the sun and the moon's orbit around the earth 
> are elliptical and this is the first time in 133 years that all 
> aforementioned factors in the orbits occur within a couple of days.  

This combination within a day is not uncommon. Similar events happened in
December 1990 and December 1991in under a 24 hour period. While 1999 is
the record for these events happening close together (about 10 hrs.) for
the last century and a half, the only people who will notice anything
exceptional because of this (except by the power of suggestion) are the
people who live in areas that have tides.

This will only be the 4th closest approach of the moon in the last 133
years. Also, the moon was brighter three other times than the supposed
record of 1866 or what we will see in a few days. This is the
astronomical equivalent of rivet counting, though. The differences can
only be noted with careful measurement (or, again, the power of

Sky and Telescope inlcuded a section on this bogus email in their weekly
bulletin. If anyone would like to see this, send me an email today. (I
will delete the bulletin in a day or so.) Please do this off of the list,
since this is grossly off topic.

Bryan Turner

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