Lunar Perigee: Why The Moon Looks So Huge Right Now

These few days past, I’ve been somewhat astounded by the apparent fullness of Sydney Harbour. Honestly, as though someone set the tap on to fill ‘er up, and accidentally left it on overnight.

See that tiny sliver of beach in the background?

That’s usually, well, a proper beach that slopes down to the water’s edge. Of late, it has looked more like a crumbling pie-crust on the edge of a very swollen, watery pie.

A mere bit o’ sand about to be gobbled up by the advancing ocean.

Anyway, it turns out that I am NOT a lunatic (in this regard). The seemingly unprecedented height of this tide is NOT a figment of my imagination. IT IS, in fact…

…THE PERIGEE.

Apogee diagram -- Wiki commons

{ via Wikipedia }

Yes, as opposed to Apogee*. For the moon keeps us company on an elliptical, eccentric [as opposed to beige] orbit, and thus every month, she spends some time in very close proximity to Earth (perigee): filling our tides, knocking us off balance, bathing our beds in bright white moonshine… before whirling away again (apogee).

But, tomorrow’s lunar perigee is not just ANY perigee. No indeed. Tomorrow, January 30, is the closest we two shall be all year. So if you have a tendency to moongaze, and find yourself marvelling at the apparent largeness of our satellite — and the fullness of our tides — rest assured that you are not imagining things. Technically, the moon is actually bigger than you remember it.

{ via NASA }

And now, when I awake tomorrow to find the ocean on the very verge of overflowing, and wonder again who left the water running, at least I’ll know who to blame.

*Personally, when I think of Apogee, the first thing that comes to mind is Cosmo…


Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventures, by Apogee Software via Wikipedia }

…and, to a lesser extent, Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein 3D, and Commander Keen.


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Wallflower Words: Quantise (v.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.


The Word: Quantise (v.)

[or Quantize (v.), depending on your hemisphere]


Huh? To divide into discrete units or into the smallest possible component parts; to express in terms of quanta.

As in? Solace, quantised. Not really. More like “Could you kindly quantise how many times you have rewatched Quantum of Solace?”. [I could not]. Or “Please quantise the expression on your face while listening to The xx on new birthday earphones”.


Again, I shurely could not.

And? Well, it just sounds cooler than ‘quantify’, despite being more or less synonymous. Note to self: preference ‘quantise’ whenever possible. Especially when describing nerdy, spacey, technobabble [<alt=”cool”>]stuff.


See also:

Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)
Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./ n.)

Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./n.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Saturnine (a./n.)

Huh? Influenced by Saturn. Contaminated with lead [the effect of lead poisoning may also known as Saturnia] and therefore leaden. Hence the quality of having a heavy, slow, dull, sullen and depressed demeanour.

As in? January Astrology.  Saturn takes 29.5 YEARS to orbit the sun, as opposed to our 365 DAYS. Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn (implying that we January babies are goatishly stubborn).

“Astrologically, Saturn is associated with the principles of limitation, restrictions, boundaries, practicality and reality, crystallizing and structures… Saturn is also considered to represent the part of a person concerned with long-term planning… According to the first-century poet Manilius, Saturn is sad, morose, and cold and is the greater malefic… Saturn symbolized processes and things which were dry and extremely cold, and, therefore, inimical to life. It governed the melancholic humor… Saturn being the planet of mortality, and hence, why the Grim Reaper carries a scythe).”

Wikipedia

Also: In bodily (sort of) form, Saturnine is The Guardian of the Road of Lost Souls in the Marvel Universe (which exists within THIS universe of course, but which anyone who has had more than a cursory glance can tell you, occupies a practically endless interlinking Wikipedia Universe of its own). Very morose; very Grim Reaper; very apt.

And? Planetary adjectives are all the rage. Happy people are commonly described as jovial, and mad ones as lunatic. The changeable are mercurial; and anything alien is either martian or at the very least, unearthly. So I say that ‘saturnine’, dark and sluggish beast that it is, deserves a better linguistic workout.

See also: Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)

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—  Lunar Loveliness
The Language of Deep Space

Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Liminal (adj.)


Huh? Of or pertaining to a ‘limen’ or threshold.

As in? The ‘rich as plumcake’ Wood Between The Worlds, that magical in-between place in The Magician’s Nephew (in CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, of course).

“The Wood Between The Worlds shares some traits with other liminal spaces, way stations and thresholds, like the bardo of Tibetan Buddhism, or the door-lined hallway that Alice tries so hard to get out of in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But unlike other “between” places in myth and fiction, the Wood is both empty and full. It is a unitary movement, containing everything, the pause before a story is told, in which nothing has happened, and so anything might… On a less abstract level, the Wood is also a library. For someone like Lewis, who lived so much through his reading, each book was potentially a portal to another world.”

– Laura Miller, The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia (which I have finally finished reading, and feel thoroughly nourished by).


{ via The Crystalline Entity }

And?Subliminal‘  — being “below the threshold of conscious perception”— is a relatively common word. As is (though to a somewhat lesser extent) ‘superliminal‘ — being above said threshold, or faster than the speed of light.  But somehow the root ‘liminal’ has fallen out of common parlance. How terribly unreasonable.

[NB. This reminds me of that most existential of questions in 10 Things I Hate About You: “Q: I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be… whelmed?” “A: I think you can in Europe?”… Except that ‘liminal’ is an actual word, whereas ‘whelmed’ is, well, not really, unless you’re talking in the nautical sense.]

NYYYE: Bewitched at the witching hour by musical magic and Mother Nature

As Oh-Nine switched into Twenty-Ten*… One pedantic blogger, Three friends of mine, and around Sixteen Thousand strangers were wildly dancing to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, in the rural coastal farmland wonderland that is Falls Festival, Marion Bay, Tasmania.


{ via The Mercury }


To the North, a full moon — a full BLUE moon — peered through the clouds:


{ via me, @miss_om }


To the South, behind the stage, instead of mankind’s incredible but economically and environmentally expensive fireworks, our pyrotechnics were provided by a truly electric lightning storm, erratically illuminating the wild Tasmanian night from end-to-end, for hours on end.


{ the view in Hobart, via The Mercury }


And then, as if sensing the combined heat of 16000 revellers, great big raindrops began to fall from the sky, lit like glitter by the neon green strobe lights. For the last hour of Oh-Nine, the crowd… went wild. The atmosphere was nothing short of primal.


A witching hour decorated by magic music and some of Mother Nature’s finest miracles? A bewitching start to the new year.


And speaking of witches**, the following is an item of wiccan imagery:


{ Witch Tower, via FFFFOUND! }

And THIS…

…is the official Yeah Yeah Yeahs t-shirt.


Wicked, yeah?


* Entering a new decade has been a popular topic of conversation of late. Personally, I’m more interested in the changed abbreviation. It seems like just yesteryear that we were all in a bother about how to abbreviate 2000 (after the convenience of ‘Ninety-Nine’ and all its predecessors). Turns out we were okay with ‘Two Thousand’, and the the rest of the noughties took care of themselves. Twenty-Ten rolls off the tongue beautifully, don’t you think? Though I hate to think where we’ll be this time next year. ‘Twenty-Eleven’ is far too polysyllabic: too cumbersome. But then simply saying ‘Eleven’ just doesn’t say enough: it lacks clarity. Oh well. At least we’ve got 363 days to decide on a suitably agreeable abbreviation.

** No, nothing about Karen O! Though the fact that she wrote the soundtrack to Where The Wild Things Are (and is pretty darn wicked) makes the wildness particularly relevant.

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