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The Winter Solstice, December 22, 1999 -- the longest night of the year, was extremely special.

This is because the solstice will coincide with a Full Moon. Ah, but not just any Full Moon. The Moon will be within a few hours of its perigee, its closest point to the Earth. This will make the Moon appear to be about 14% bigger than usual. However, it is also only ten days from the Earth's perihelion, its closest point to the Sun. Since the Moon shines with reflected sunlight, then the moon will appear 7% brighter than usual. These events occurring together are extremely rare. This is probably the biggest, brightest moon of the Millennium as well as its last. That makes it a rare night indeed, so check with your local astronomy clubs to find out what special events are planned.

Whatever you do, get out and look at the sky. You will never see a Moon like this again. December 22 Winter solstice is at 2:44 A.M. EST. The moon is at perigee (221,614 miles from Earth), 5:55 a.m. EST. Full moon is at 12:31 p.m. EST.

January 2 Earth is at perihelion (91.4 million miles from the sun), midnight EST.

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