Friday, December 28, 2012

Last Full Moon of 2012 Rises Friday

The last full moon of 2012 will rise into the night sky this week in a year-ending lunar treat.

The full moon is actually an instantaneous event when the moon is exactly opposite the sun in the Earth's sky, and this month that occurs on Friday morning, Dec. 28, at 5:21 a.m. EST (1021 GMT). But, to the naked eye, the moon "looks" full for a couple of days on either side of that time, so the exact date doesn't matter.

Many owners of new telescopes are disappointed when they look at the planets. At its largest, the planet Venus is just barely one arc minute in diameter, about 1/30th of the diameter of the sun or the moon, and all the other planets appear smaller than that.

Telescope owners complain that the planets don't look any larger with a telescope than they do with the naked eye. That isn't true of course, because any telescope will magnify everything dozens or hundreds of times. But when something is as small as a planet, even a lot of magnification won't make it look very big.

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