Saturday, February 6, 2010

January's Full Wolf Moon

ast Sunday night we saw a great, big full moon in the sky. When I saw how large it was rising in the eastern sky, as I was walking back from the grocery store, I got really excited and ran home to grab my camera to take a photo. 

Each full moon that appears in the month is known in this part of the world by a name given to it by Native Americans originating from the north east United States.  This month's moon is known as the Wolf Moon, presumably because wolf packs, hungry in the cold of winter, would howl outside villages in the cold January nights.  This year the wolf moon offers us an extra treat: it is huge!  But why?

According to, the 2010 wolf moon will appear 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than any other full moon this year, because our cosmic neighbour will actually be closer to Earth than usual.  The moon's orbit around the earth is not a real circle, so the distance from the earth varies over the month.  When closest, it is said to be at perigee and at its farthest from Earth, the moon is said to be at apogee. Perigee and apogee each happen generally once a month, but the moon's wobbly orbit means that the satellite's exact distance at each of those events varies over the year.  This month it happens to be closest to the earth at the same time as it is in the full moon phase.  The only time that will happen this year - so it is the largest moon in the sky this year.

The other thing which was at play as I watched the moon rise in the east was "moon illusion", which is explained in this wiki more completely.  There are a few hypothesis for the well known phonomena that the moon appears larger when on the horizon than when it is high in the sky in it's zenith and you can go to this wiki if you want to know more.  This is also true of the sun rising and setting and I have certainly noticed that as I watch sunrise and sunset whenever I can. 

Read more about how "The biggest full moon of 2010 will rise in the east Friday night, and it'll appear with a bright sidekick: Mars will cozy up just to the left of the supersize moon" in this National Geographic Article.

I have to mention that I was so very pleased that I was able to capture not only the large full moon in the picture I took, but also all the lights of the downtown and the lights of the Gardiner Expressway, which travels parallel to the lake across the city.  I don't know much about photography, but had noticed that when in manual mode I can select the exposure on my camera.

Longer exposure means you can take pictures in darker situations.  I just increased the exposure but because longer exposure means less tolerance to "camera jiggle " , I rested the camera on my balcony railing.  Voila!  All the lights in the Toronto skyline are clearly visible as is the moon.  You can even see the few clouds in the night sky which were hovering just under the moon!  And the CN Tower lit up in the blue/red colours of Haiti.  Contrast that with the photo to the right which I took using the automatic setting, with the flash turned off.  If you leave the flash to turn on you capture only an area in the 5 feet in front of you in the photo and only blackness as a background.  I shall have to experiment with other camera settings in future!

Onofrido Virdo
Last night I went to my local coffee shop - a Second Cup franchise - and listened to a concert by Onofrido Virdo.  I have to call it a concerns  even though it was not held in a concert hall.  There were 20 or 30 people crammed into the coffee shop listening to his wonderful stress relieving music. He played quite a few familar Spanish guitar favourites and quite a few others.  i enjoyed it a lot and purchased a CD of his music, which I am listening to as I write this blog. This musician has been out to the Liberty Wednesday nights and I hope he will come again there soon.

You can listen to him on this You Tube, the first minute or so is an ad for his gig at Second Cup - the rest is a great piece of guitar work.

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