The Full Moon during the night of 2010 JAN 29/30 will be at perigee and at the Moon’s closest distance from Earth for 2009-2010 with 356,593 km separating their centers. Oceanic tidal effects will be extreme. The tightest perigees occur around the times of Full Moons with Dark Moons producing very close runners up. Perigee Full Moons are separated by 14 lunar months.
The factors of the Earth being relatively near the Sun, and the Moon being at modest ecliptical latitude will both add to the Moon’s brilliance. The Moon’s significantly northern declination will be helpful to northern hemisphere observers, and its greatest fullness will occur during the late evening while it’s well above the horizon for North Americans.
Not only will the Moon be in opposition to the Sun, but so will Mars. That night the especially bright Full Moon will pass about 6° or 7° south of magnitude -1.3 Mars, depending on your location. Sorry, Mars fanatics, but at least we “lunatics” will appreciate the situation. In any event, it should prove to the credulous multitude that Mars at opposition does not appear as large as a Full Moon, LOL.
Big bright Full Moons are especially fascinating for all of us. Interestingly, due to light and shadow effects, a Full Moon is about twelve times brighter than a Half Moon (first/last quarter position). It’s not mere imagination that some months a Full Moon appears larger than at other times. And their altitudes at local meridian transit can vary considerably over the course of a year and the 18.6-year nodal cycle.
I’ve created a diagram with data that demonstrates the variability of the next 15 Full Moons. At the top are the changing declinations which affect the Moon’s altitude at local meridian transit. Across the center are illustrated the distances between the Earth and Moon. At the bottom can be seen the changes in the Moon’s apparent angular size due to changes in distance. Another chart plots the oceanic tidal effect. Both graphics can be viewed by clicking: http://www.curtrenz.com/astronomical then going to the Moon page.
Enjoy the spectacle! Descriptions and photos of the brilliant Full Moon passing by bright Mars would be welcome additions to this thread.