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The year is new, the moon is full, we are all blue

December 30, 2009

A few astronomical tidbits this week. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve; after that we will have completed yet another trip around the Sun (a distance of roughly 940 million kilometres. My grandmother also turns 92 this week, and I think deserves an equivalent number of Air Miles.

New Year’s Eve is also a full moon – the 2nd full moon of December and 13th of 2009, which means it’s also a blue moon. That doesn’t really mean anything – our calendar is just a tiny bit out of sync with the moon’s regular orbit – but it is what it is.

There’s ALSO a partial lunar eclipse on New Year’s, pretty much everywhere except the Americas 😦 Here in Toronto, I guess we will have to be content with our crummy blue moon. Other bright objects in the sky include Sirius, Betelgeuse and Rigel in the south, Mars, Regulus and Pollux in the east… but the forecast is calling for overcast skies and flurries anyways.

Much closer to home is Apophis, an asteroid that is not going to hit us in 2029, though it will definitely give us a close shave. It might hit us in 2036 but the chances of doing so are getting progressively smaller. The Russians apparently want to deflect it, though I confess that I don’t know enough about Russian politics to know why they want to deflect something that isn’t going to hit us.

But if they want to do it… it seems like a worthwhile venture to at least discuss a plan of action. The more we learn about Apophis, the less of a threat it seems to be… but we only discovered it six years ago, so who knows what else is out there right now, undiscovered, and in our path?

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