Friday, September 13, 2019

Still Life with Robin: Mini-Moon Tonight!

NASA image: Supermoon vs. Micromoon

by Peggy Robin

It’s the hat trick – three in a row for the Still Life with Robin column appearing on Friday, not Saturday. That’s because, for the third time in a row, there’s an event I want to natter on about, and if I wait until Saturday, I’ve missed it. What is it this time? No festivals or book fairs. Look up to the sky tonight, and if it’s not too cloudy, you will see it: It’s Mini-Moon! 

CNN’s website explains what that means and how it happens:
“A glowing (but mini) harvest moon will light up Friday the 13th”

Live Science, on the other hand, is calling it a “micromoon” – although it’s only 14 percent smaller and 30 percent dimmer than the typical full moon.
“On Friday the 13th, Don't Be Freaked Out by the 'Micromoon'”

Capital Weather Gang has also gone with the “Micro” modifier, and their article includes advice about DC viewing….which could well be a bust, as odds are high that the micro-moon will be hidden behind tonight’s expected cloud cover:

“The moon rises over Washington at 7:31 p.m. Friday although clouds may obscure the view. Just look to the east about five minutes after sunset, and you’ll see the orange disk poking above the horizon. Until it’s firmly planted high in the sky, however, it’ll be tough to appreciate just how small it looks.”

CWG also had the best trivia about the rarity of tonight’s lunar light:

“For a micromoon and Friday the 13th full moon to occur together is extraordinarily rare. The last time it happened was in 1832 and it won’t happen again for more than 500 years according to Tony Rice, a meteorologist and engineer at NASA.”

Even a normal full moon doesn’t happen on a Friday the 13th all that often. The last time was 13 years ago, and the next time will be 13 years from now. Again, here’s CWG with some fun facts about full moons to come:

“The next time we’ll have a moon approaching fullness on Friday the 13th (before achieving total illumination the next morning) will be in a little over 13 years, in May 2033. And if you’re looking for something really riveting, mark your calendar for 2037. There will be two blue moons in a span of three months — a blue moon defined as the second full moon in a calendar month. They’ll occur on Jan. 31 and March 31, both months that will also feature a full moon on the first of the month. In addition, March 13, 2037, falls on a Friday.”

Happy Friday the 13th to all – and to anyone affected by paraskevidekatriaphobia (that’s the name for fear of Friday the 13th – and if you were thinking, what about triskaidekaphobia? -- well, that’s just fear of the number 13), you might find some reassurance in this piece from LiveScience, debunking the superstition, which is not an ancient one, as you might have supposed:

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv, usually on Saturdays, but lately, on Fridays. It’s also available on the web at All Life Is Local.

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