Friday, January 1, 2010

Moon Shine on a Frigid Night

Three astronomical phenomena have combined to create another exceptionally bright "moon" tonight.

The moon is the closest it will get to the earth this month - so it looks bigger by 7%.  Tomorrow night the earth will be the closest it will get to the sun this month - so the sun's reflection on the moon is brighter.  And the moon is so high in the sky this time of year, it's like a giant spotlight. 

I just had to go outside and take a photo.

It didn't take long for me to realize the danger in that.  According to my favorite WCCO Weatherman - Chris Shaffer - the temperature outside (with the wind chill) is -24ยบ.   I had to be careful about frost bite.  (Tripod, camera, gloves, hat, scarf, coat, boots)

I'm back indoors now - with this special first-person report:  it is very bright tonight; the moon is so high that I didn't spot it right away; and it's very, very, very cold outside.

I continue to be amazed when I think of the heat halo around the little chickadees on nights like this.  Even though they can drop their body temperature 15 degrees, there can be nearly 100-degrees difference between their core body temperature and the air temperature an inch from their feather coats.

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