I have a close friend with a good sense of adventure. We tried for a few years to go outside and do something adventurous for every full moon, a mindset that has faded some, but still holds on for nights like last night. If the weather is remotely favorable and we’re both available, we find something to do under the spectacle of moonlight, ranging from putting around in my boat with scotch and cigars, to hiking a mountain and skiing down it.

Last night we met halfway between the boat/cigar and the skiing part, and skied out onto the lake. By reasonable objective measurements, it was pretty cold at about 10F and if you were in an exposed area, the wind was blowing 5-10 with gusts of 15-25mph. Snow was blowing around as we got about 2-4" of light, fluffy snow throughout the day. But if you were on the lee (protected from wind) side of an island or the shore, it wasn’t bad at all. The sky cleared after the snow stopped and holy moly was it bright.

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This picture actually wasn’t taken last night, but over 10 years ago with a cheap point & shoot digital camera under very similar conditions. But the fact that it came out as bright as it did with a now-ancient technology camera, tells you just how bright it really is with a full moon on a white space like a frozen lake.

In particular, last night’s Supermoon may have been even brighter, as this full moon is at perigee, which means the moon is at its closest to the Earth and thus appears quite a bit larger and brighter (relatively more reflective surface area) than a regular full moon or one at apogee (farthest from Earth).

I didn’t take any pictures last night because I only had my cell phone and it didn’t have much battery. I had it buried in my innermost layer and figured it was worth having as a safety measure. But you could see amazing detail in the shoreline; barely less than on a bright day. The clouds (what few there were) had colors. The sky was a shade of blue about like you’d see an hour after sunset. You could see clouds of snow swirling and blowing up off the lake miles away, and then sometimes right up close and all around us. Our tracks were covered in the hour it took us to loop back around an island.

Before retreating to the car, we marveled at how the snow sparkled in the moonlight, and how impossible it would be to describe the experience later. While most people were huddled in their houses with their flat screen TVs watching basketball or fretting about the next snowstorm and how it might affect their commute on Wednesday, we were basking in the reflected sunlight, having a mildly-frozen Guinness, on what would have been a beach in July.

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Get out there and make the most of it! The moon should be nearly as bright tonight and rises just after sunset.

again, taken years ago through a friend’s telescope