The moon reached full moon phase (100% illumination) today at 8:09AM. It had set before we could see it in all it's 100% illumination glory but because it's currently about 30,000 miles farther away than when it orbits closest to the Earth, the moon appears "full" longer because it's orbiting slower. This includes tonight and will feature a greater than 98% illumination. It'll appear full to the casual observer. This one is special, because it will also look smaller than any time during the year.

This is due to it having reached it's farthest distance away in its orbit. Typically, our natural satellite orbits Earth at about 240,000 miles away. It's not a perfectly circular orbit, but instead varies between 220,000 miles at its perigee when it's closest, to as far away as 250,000 miles at it's apogee, when it's farthest away (now). Right now it's about 20,000 miles farther away than its average orbit distance.

We are currently experiencing a "mini moon", or as some say a, "micro moon". I prefer the term "mini" because it doesn't appear quite as small as what, "mico" suggests. It's the opposite of a super moon, when the moon orbits closest to Earth.

This is the opposite of what many call a, "super moon". Tonight's, "mini moon" (or, "micro moon" as some call it) will next be full moon at its apogee (farthest point) next July -- 2018. It's worth a peak if you can catch it between the clouds tonight.


Meteorologist Brooks Garner