Moon over Puget Sound. Photo attribution: PFLY.
This Saturday, January 10, the moon will be in perigee, it’s closest approach to the earth for the year. It will be a moon of magnificent size especially as it nears the western horizon at 7:39 Sunday morning.
For reasons still unexplained, the moon seems larger near the horizon. I remember a night watch onboard a boat we delivered from Oahu to San Francisco. We were a week into a three week passage, already a bit dazed from standing watch-on-watch. Because there were only three in the delivery crew, we stood our watches alone. There was no one to ask when, in the middle of the wide Pacific, a ship steamed over the horizon on a collision course for the only other boat in existence, a 40 foot sailboat making four knots.
It must have been a cruise ship. The decks were flooded with light. Amid all the back scatter, I couldn’t pick out its running lights, couldn’t determine its exact direction, but it was coming on fast. I seriously thought about turning on the engine but where would I steer? The ship seemed to fill the eastern horizon as if it were about to run us down. They wouldn’t even feel the collision. They’d even know to turn and look for survivors. There seemed no escape.
And then the ship’s hull cleared the horizon. Something in my head audibly clicked. What seemed a ship at risk of collision turned into the moon rising above an empty ocean, an enormous moon sailing overhead.