Jan 7/8/9/10 Meteors and a Big Full Moon

This weekend’s Full Moon will be the biggest and one of the brightest of 2009. This is caused by the Moon’s orbit which is not a perfect circle. This month, the Moon will be closest to the Earth (what we call perigee) today at a distance of 214,500 miles  (357,500 km). At its furthest (called apogee) on Jan 23 UT, the Moon will be 243,669 miles (406,115 km) away. That’s a difference of 29,169 miles (48,615 km) or ~14%. Due to the way the Moon’s orbit is lined up, Full Moons in December and January are the largest while the ones in June and July are the smallest. Also the Full Moons in December and January travel the highest in the sky for observers in the Northern Hemisphere. For more on this month’s large Full Moon, see this Science@NASA article.

The Full Moon means that it is real hard to observe meteors right now. Still the Tucson based SALSA camera system is still picking up 12-20 meteors per night. Most are Sporadics not affiliated with any particular shower, though a few Antihelions and Coma Berenicids can also be seen.

From Bob’s notes on Jan 7/8: “The weather here cannot make up its mind whether to be good or bad. Every other night seems clear recently. As for the meteor rates, they were downright pitiful on the morning of the 8th. Although the moon was bright, a total of 27 is far below expectations for my system, even in January.”

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT COM
TUS  2009-01-10  11h 00m  17  15  0   2
SDG  2009-01-10  10h 57m  28  24  2   2
TUS  2009-01-09  11h 38m  13  12  1   0
TUS  2009-01-08  12h 05m  18  17  0   1
SDG  2009-01-08  11h 55m  27  24  2   1

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
COM – Coma Berenicids


  1. A question: When will the full moon rise over the Rincon Mountains in Tucson, Arizona on June 6th? It’s an important time for me. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lee,

      The Moon rises around 7:00 pm in Tucson. Since the mountains are in the way, it’ll take another 10-15 minutes or so to clear the Rincons. It is still daylight at the time since the Sun does not set until 7:27 pm. The nearly Full Moon will be a nice sight once the Sun sets.

      Hope that helps,
      – Carl

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