Big Moon and Moonlit Earth

February 28, 2002


Provided by: Hank Brandli
Summary authors & editors: Hank Brandli; Jim Foster

Last night's full Moon was the biggest and brightest for all of 2002. This is because it's the closest full Moon of the year. The Moon is at perigee now, and so appears about 9% bigger than normal and about 20% brighter. The above photo was captured early yesterday morning using the visible sensor on the DMSP satellite from an altitude of approximately 720 km. It's slightly brighter than it otherwise would be if the Earth and Moon were not at perigee. Although nighttime images of the Earth showing city lights are almost always seen with little or no moonlight (see the Picture of the Day for February 22), full Moon images also show city lights (though not as well), and clouds and snow cover can also be readily discerned. Washington and Baltimore are under a cloud deck, but a number of large cities in eastern Canada and the northeastern US can be easily identified, including Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. What appears to be clouds in Michigan and Ohio is actually snow cover.

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