March’s Lizard Full Moon

Welcome March Full Moon!

Welcome to Issue 3 of Volume IX of Earth, Moon and Stars!

IN THIS ISSUE
(click any of these section links)

INTRO

   If you’re new here and would like to learn first more about what we’re up to, click on Me to You to jump to my Intro section. (There’s a link there that will take you back to the above table of contents when you are ready.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’

FULLNESS
 The moon will become technically full Sunday March 12 at 14:54 UTC, correspondingly earlier in time zones west of the Prime Meridian, later in time zones to the east. (See my December 2014 issue for some clarification about UTC and 24-hour time.)

   Because technical fullness will occur in mid-afternoon at the Prime Meridian, the cusp this time will fall around Greenland’s meridian, and thus Ms. Luna will appear in the vicinity of this longitude equally full both Saturday and Sunday nights. Further west to the International Date Line will see closer to maximum fullness on Saturday night, while Sunday night will favor folks east of the cusp. Check Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones.

CELEBRATIONS
   Holi and Purim are the Spring festivals happening at this full moon. See the Celebrations section for pics and details.

MOON NAMES
   Past March issues have seen a variety of names featured for this full moon. This time it’s the Lizard Moon. Check out Moon Names for more.

Full Moon Chameleon (Albie Venter, South Africa)

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JUST SAYIN’
   In my opinion section, I continue the theme of All of Us with a famous song from 1985. Take a gander at the Just Sayin’ section.

ASTROLOGY
  Astrologer Tanaaz offers us timely insight at this full moon in Virgo in Astrology. 

HUMOR
  In our Humor section, Calvin and Hobbes ponder astrology.

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SEASONAL CALENDAR
Moon Dates and Times

Daylight Time Begins    USA, Canada: Sunday March 12

March’s full moon          Sunday March 12 14:54 UTC; 4:54 pm IST; 10:54 pm AWST/PHT
.                                              Sunday March 12 11:54 am ADT; 10:54 am EDT; 7:54 am PDT; 4:54 am HAST
.                                             Monday March 13 1:54 am AEDT
 

March Equinox               Monday March 20 10:29 UTC

Daylight Time Begins    Israel: Friday March 24  ||  United Kingdom: Sunday March 26

March’s new moon         Tuesday March 28 02:57 UTC; 5:57 am IDT; 10:57 am AWST/PHT; 1:57 pm AEDT
.                                               Monday March 27 11:57 pm ADT; 10:57 pm EDT; 7:57 pm PDT; 4:57 pm HAST

Daylight Time Ends       Eastern Australia: Sunday April 2

April’s full moon             Tuesday Apr 11 06:08 UTC; 9:08 am IDT; 2:08 pm AWST/PHT; 4:08 pm AEST
.                                               Tuesday Apr 11 3:08 am ADT; 2:08 am EDT
.                                               Monday Apr 10 11:08 pm PDT; 8:08 pm HAST

Passover                             Monday April 10 to Tuesday April 18
Easter                                  Sunday April 16

April’s new moon           Wednesday Apr 26 12:16 UTC; 3:16 pm IDT; 8:16 pm AWST/PHT; 10:16 pm AEST
.                                              Wednesday Apr 26 9:16 am ADT; 8:16 am EDT; 5:16 am PDT; 2:16 am HAST

.                                  Check Moon Giant to find Full Moon and New Moon times for your local time zone.

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MOON-RELATED CELEBRATIONS

Holi

   Hindus follow a lunisolar calendar, which honors each full noon (purnima) with a celebration. On the day after the last full moon of the Hindu lunar month Phalguna (transliterated as Phalgun Purnima), millions of people in India, Nepal, and now almost everywhere around the world, celebrate the Hindu festival of Holi – the Spring Festival of Colors.

   Though officially beginning this year on the evening of March 12 with the major riots happening on March 13 and 14, Holi celebrations in various places are beginning before then, while others are scheduled for later in the month. Similar to the Spring rituals of many cultures, this major Hindu holiday celebrates new life and hope, accentuating the joy with colors (everywhere and on everyone!) that reflect the colors of the flowers blooming all around. (See more at Time and USA Today.)

Holi Celebration

   The holiday also has deep cultural, mythological  and religious roots.  For lots more details about Holi, visit this Wikipedia article and Holi Festival.

Purim

   Purim is a rabbinically decreed Jewish holiday that is celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, which coincides with the current full moon. The holiday will run from sundown Saturday until sundown Sunday.

  This spring holiday commemorates the Jewish community’s narrow escape from collective destruction in the ancient Persian Empire, and is celebrated by merry-making, re-telling the story of Esther, and eating of traditional foods. The theme of the triumph of good over evil found here is common to many rites of Spring, including Holi (above). (More on Purim can be found at Wikipedia and Metro.)

Purim Street Celebration

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MOON NAMES

Lizard Moon

   As you know, many cultures around the world kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Most of these names were appropriate for the season in which they occurred and were keyed to the goings-on in their natural environment.

   I think uplifting traditions are important — especially during troubled times — as they link us to thought lineages that, having marinated over time, have refined their wisdom to essentials. That’s one reason I like these various moon names — and not just the popular ones.

   In previous issues we’ve featured a variety of colorful names for the March full moon, including Worm, Sap, Crow, Moose Hunter, Whispering Wind, Buffalo, and Lenten Moon.

Full Crow Moon (Cherokee Billie)

   This time I’m pulling a more obscure name and featuring the Lizard Moon, so called by the San Juan peoples of Arizona. I tried to find some background for the name, but so far drawing blanks. I’ll just presume that the people living in what is now Arizona noticed that lizards were becoming active around this time of year after a lethargic winter.

Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus under desert moon (Elena Duvernay)

   Okay, okay – while dinosaurs are a class of reptiles, they aren’t technically lizards. But this was such a neat piece of artwork, I couldn’t pass it up.

   And even more cool Lizard Moon art than I had anticipated finding . . .

Lizard Couple at Full Moon Night (haya_p Hayashi Masataka)

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JUST SAYIN’

Continuing the “All of Us” Theme

   I introduced this section in last July’s issue to offer a more unifying perspective on the troubles and pain we humans continue to inflict on each other. Many poets have expressed how calming the moon can be, due ~ among other things ~ to her perspective from above, her constant blessing of us while we deal with chaos below, and also to her silence. (See Just Sayin’ in July’s issue for my expansion on this point of view.)

   This perspective sees all of us as equal passengers on this bright blue marble. My July, August, September, October, November, December, January and February posts offered songs I’d found expressing this idea in a variety of styles.

   As I was wondering what I was going to do for this month’s Just Sayin’, I remembered back to 1985 when Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote We Are the World, which brought together 23 superstars of the day and was originally produced as a charity single to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

   The message, of course, goes way beyond just one country. One of these days enough of us will wake up to realize we can create a better life for everyone by cooperating instead of fighting. I just hope when we do, it won’t be too late.

   Click the image of the record sleeve below to open the YouTube page where you can listen to Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and 21 other superstars of 1985 sing this song:

   Excerpt:

We can’t go on pretending day by day
That someone, somehow will soon make a change
We are all a part of God’s great big family
And the truth, you know
Love is all we need.

   Click this Genius.com page for the full lyrics, and this Wikipedia article for more background.

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ASTROLOGY

Moon Travels Through the Zodiac

    Zipping Along. Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the zodiac – the moon takes just a month to complete an entire round. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign.

   Opposition. Because at fullness the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun (opposition), it is in the zodiac sign that is opposite the sign that the sun is in. February’s Astrology section has a more detailed explanation.

Moon in Signs and Void of Course

   Technical astrologers call the times while Ms. Luna is in transition from one sign to the next “void of course”. This is considered to be a sort of neither-here-nor-there state, which many people feel as being unsettled or ungrounded. Each astrologer chooses their own method for calculating times of beginning and ending VoC. You can find interesting (though differing) VoC info and tables at Dr. Standley and at Moontracks.

   Referencing the Moontracks table, we find that Ms. Luna entered the sign of Virgo Friday (10th) at 10:07. She will exit Virgo — thus becoming VoC — Monday at 02:36, and will enter the sign of Libra a few hours later at 05:28. (All times here are UT~Universal Time.)

Full Moon in Virgo

Tanaaz ~  

Intuitive Astrology:
Full Moon in Virgo ~ A Time for Self-Healing

   Tanaaz Chubb is a professional content writer and producer who, among a number of endeavors, manages and directs Forever Conscious – an online holistic community that focuses on spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.

 In her Intuitive Astrology post for this full moon, Tanaaz begins with:

   The March 12th Full Moon falls in the earthy sign of Virgo. As the energy of this Full Moon lingers for the next two weeks, we are all going to enter into a time of self-healing.
. . .Virgo is typically the sign associated with thinking. Deep thinking. Over thinking. Virgo thinking is often self-critical, however when channeled in the right way, Virgo thinking can be extremely enlightening. 

   Hopefully that’s enough to pique your interest into taking a look at Tanaaz’ full article: March Full Moon. There’s a lot of good material there – and on other pages on her website as well – so you will want to set aside some quiet time to read and digest.

Virgo Full Moon

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HUMOR

Calvin and Hobbes: The future isn’t what it used to be.

   Calvin is thinking about astrology again . . .

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FROM ME TO YOU

    Thank you, dear reader, for visiting EM&S this “moonth”. I hope you liked it.

   Here’s a little bit about me and what this blog is about. I’ve been fascinated with astronomy ever since I learned to read. I’m also interested in how objects in the heavens influence people. In this blog I collect facts and folklore (mostly from the Web) about our moon and other sky phenomena.

   If you especially liked something you saw here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. And please don’t be shy about sharing this post with friends if you like it!

   Note that I have a separate post called ARCHIVES which contains a list of all the titles I’ve posted since the inception of this blog. The titles are clickable of course. Easier and more informative than just the dates that appear in the right-side Archives column. (I’m slowly learning more things I can make WordPress do. There’s a lot there!)

   Until the full moon in April,
here’s wishing all of us a month of joy and lightness.

~ Moonlight to all,
Marty

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My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect us directly, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that the astrologers I feature express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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A NOTE ON WRITING STYLE

    A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

    When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

    Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

    Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

    So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

    Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

    If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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INTENTION FOR THIS EARTH, MOON AND STARS BLOG

   The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER

Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images or compositions (e.g. songs, poetry) appearing on it. Copyrighted works remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is content appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the item in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.

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February’s Hungry Heart Full Moon 2017

Welcome February Full Moon!

Welcome to Issue 2 of Volume IX of Earth, Moon and Stars!

IN THIS ISSUE
(click any of these section links)

INTRO

   If you’re new here and would like to learn first more about what we’re up to, click on Me to You to jump to my Intro section. (There’s a link there that will take you back to the above table of contents when you are ready.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’

THE HUNGRY HEART
   My Hungry Heart theme this month didn’t come to me in a flash; it revealed itself in stages and then went running through the whole post, especially these sections: Moon Names, Moon Poetry, and Just Sayin’.

FULLNESS
 The moon will become technically full Saturday February 11 at 00:33 UTC, correspondingly earlier in time zones west of the Prime Meridian, later in time zones to the east. (See my December 2014 issue for some clarification about UTC and 24-hour time.)

   Because exact fullness will occur this time just after midnight Saturday at the Prime Meridian, Ms. Luna will appear fullest on Friday night/early Saturday morning almost everywhere on Earth. Folks just west of the International Date Line (Philippines, Australia, etc.) will get an approximately equal show Friday and Saturday nights. Check Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones.

CELEBRATIONS
   The Lunar New Year culminates with the Lantern Festival on the night of the full moon. This is also when Tu B’Shevat begins. See the Celebrations section for pics and details.

MOON NAMES
   We’ve featured Snow Moon – the most popular name for this full moon – in a number of previous years, so this time I’m combining a lesser-known name with one I adopted myself…and like for a variety of reasons. Check out Moon Names and see what you think.

February Snow Moon

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SKYWATCH ~ Penumbral Lunar Eclipse | Comet-45P
   [1] At fullness the Moon will pass through the penumbra of Earth’s shadow. Not a big show, but may be interesting to some. [2] An annular solar eclipse at the time of the next new moon. [3] A chance to catch a comet on fly-by. [4] A reminder of the spectacular total solar eclipse this August that will cut right across the midsection of the United States. Click through to Skywatch for details.

MOON POETRY
   Two moon poems this time, capturing the mood of February (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), and fitting in nicely with this issue’s theme. Take a trip to the Moon Poetry section.

JUST SAYIN’
   In my opinion section, I continue the theme of All of Us with some words from me and another song that just about everyone knows. Methinks it never hurts to remind ourselves of what lives in the deepest part of all of us. Read and listen in the Just Sayin’ section.

ASTROLOGY
  Astrologer Tanaaz offers us timely insight at this full moon and eclipse in Leo in Astrology. 

HUMOR
  In our Humor section, Calvin and Hobbes wonder at the night sky.

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SEASONAL CALENDAR
Moon Dates and Times

February’s full moon       Saturday Feb 11 00:33 UTC; 2:33 am IST; 8:33 am AWST/PHT; 11:33 am AEDT
.                                             Friday Feb 10 8:33 pm AST; 7:33 pm EST; 4:33 pm PST; 2:33 pm HAST

February’s new moon     Sunday Feb 26 14:58 UTC; 4:58 pm IST; 10:58 pm AWST/PHT
.                                             Sunday Feb 26 10:58 am AST; 9:58 am EST; 6:58 am PST; 4:58 am HAST
.                                             Monday Feb 27 1:58 am AEDT

Daylight Time Begins    USA, Canada: Sunday March 12

March’s full moon          Sunday March 12 14:54 UTC; 4:54 pm IST; 10:54 pm AWST/PHT
.                                            Sunday March 12 11:54 am ADT; 10:54 am EDT; 7:54 am PDT; 4:54 am HAST
.                                            Monday March 13 1:54 am AEDT
 

March Equinox               Monday March 20 10:29 UTC

Daylight Time Begins    Israel: Friday March 24  ||  United Kingdom: Sunday March 26

March’s new moon         Tuesday March 28 02:57 UTC; 5:57 am IDT; 10:57 am AWST/PHT; 1:57 pm AEDT
.                                            Monday March 27 11:57 pm ADT; 10:57 pm EDT; 7:57 pm PDT; 4:57 pm HAST

.                                  Check out Moon Giant to find Full Moon and New Moon times for your local time zone.

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MOON-RELATED CELEBRATIONS

Lantern Festival

   Last month we featured the Lunar New Year, officially known as the ‘Spring Festival‘ in China. The 15-day celebration culminates in the Lantern Festival on the night of the first full moon of the lunisolar New Year.

Lantern Festival on Full Moon

    The Lantern Festival will be celebrated in many countries this year on Saturday, February 11. (Refs: Wikipedia~Chinese New Year, Wikipedia~Chinese zodiac, Chinese Fortune Calendar)

Tu B’Shevat

   Tu B’Shevat is a minor Jewish holiday, also called “Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot” – literally “New Year of the Trees”, which was historically related to the cycles of the fruit trees.  The modern name Tu B’Shevat is derived from the date on which it occurs: the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. This places it on or a day after the full moon, as the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar, with each month beginning at a new moon. This year Tu B’Shevat will begin at sunset Friday (10 Feb) the night of the full moon, and finish at nightfall on Saturday (11 Feb). (More info: Chabad; Wikipedia)

Almond tree in blossom

Almond tree in blossom

Dried fruit and almonds

European Jews traditionally celebrate Tu B’Shevat by eating dried fruit and almonds.  Modern Israelis celebrate by planting trees in ecological awareness.

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MOON NAMES

Hungry Heart Moon

   As you know, many cultures around the world kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Most of these names were appropriate for the season in which they occurred and were keyed to the goings-on in their natural environment.

   I think uplifting traditions are important — especially during troubled times — as they link us to thought lineages that, having marinated over time, have refined their wisdom to essentials. That’s one reason I like these various moon names — and not just the popular ones.

   Snow Moon is the most common name for the February full moon; we’ve featured it in previous years: “Glistening“(2011), “Moon of Snow“(2012), and “Icy Snowy” (2014).

Golden Snow Moon

   Many Native American tribes who used Snow Moon for the moon preceding this one gave the current full moon the name Hunger Moon, in obvious reference to the difficulty in finding food when hunting game was scarce and plants were covered with snow.

A Hungry Moon by Don Oelze

A Hungry Moon by Don Oelze

   I decided to take license again (poetic or otherwise, despite reader/friend Marc’s protestations) and am marrying Hunger Moon with Heart Moon, a name not typically associated with a particular full moon. It seems to me this is appropriate both to the season (with Valentine’s Day approaching) and to the current world situation, where it appears that compassion has retreated in favor of alienation.

   I missed showcasing Heart Moon when the full moon occurred on Valentine’s Day in 2014 (my penchant for adopting my own names hadn’t kicked in yet), and I don’t want to wait until the next time it will happen – 2033. If I’m still publishing EM&S then, I’ll name it Valentine Moon.

Goddess Moon

   So a Hungry Heart Moon. Many hearts are full at this season, while many others are hungry. Let’s give Ms. Luna a chance to help all our hearts become full.

   See the Moon Poetry section for some inspiration along these lines, and the Just Sayin’ section for perspective and some healing music.

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SKYWATCH

A Barely Noticeable Dusky Eclipse

  In last month’s Skywatch we listed the four eclipses (two solar and two lunar) on tap for 2017. Check it out for the details, especially about the big total solar eclipse in August.

  As we noted there, the full moon this month will experience passing through the penumbra of Earth’s shadow, from a couple of hours prior to technical fullness until a couple of hours after. See Seasonal Calendar above for fullness times in some representative time zones, or this TimeandDate page, where you can plug in the name of your city and see times and an animation. This eclipse will be a tiny bit deeper than the penumbral eclipse we described in last September’s Skywatch. Check it out if you are interested in more detail about penumbrals.

   Some people are excited about this eclipse, but yours truly isn’t. Why? The “penumbra” is the outer region of the shadow in which there is still light visible from the Sun. This produces only a dusky, half-lit shadow on the Moon — barely noticeable from here on Earth. It’s not like a “partial” eclipse, in which at least some of the moon is completely darkened by the shadow’s umbra (no light). (In all fairness to astrology – this is merely my perspective from a purely astronomy/observing viewpoint. See the Astrology section for a more refreshing interpretation.)

    Admittedly, this eclipse will be as dark as penumbrals can get, since all of the Moon’s face will be awash in this quasi-shadow area, sliding right up to the edge of the dark umbra, but not entering it. Quoting here from TimeandDate‘s page for this eclipse:

It is often difficult to tell the difference between a penumbral eclipse and a regular Full Moon. However, this eclipse [will be] easier to spot than an average penumbral eclipse because the Moon travels through the darkest areas of Earth’s penumbra, only just missing the umbra, the darkest part of the shadow.

   The best seats in the house will be in Eastern North America, and all of Central and South America. Check out this TimeandDate page for an animation that will give you an idea of what you can expect to see,  along with times and locations where this eclipse will be viewable.

   Sky and Telescope has an excellent page on this eclipse, too, with some helpful technical details.

lunar-eclipse-feb-2017

Other Upcoming Eclipses

   In a more spectacular vein, the new moon this month (Feb 26) will produce a pretty amazing annular solar eclipse, but you will be able to see it only if you are in the southern tip of South America or southern/western Africa (or out at sea between them).

Path of Solar Eclipse (2-27-17) [TimeandDate]

Path of Solar Eclipse (2-26-17) [TimeandDate]

   Annular solar eclipses are “almost” total, but with an impressive “ring of fire” around the edge of the new moon. This TimeandDate page provides an animation and diagram that will show you the what, when and where, plus a live stream program. And you can watch a live telescope stream via the Slooh website.

   Don’t forget the total solar eclipse in August (🌶🌶🌶🌶).  Below I reproduce the list of the four 2017 eclipses, with my “hotness” ratings.

February 10-11   Lunar    Penumbral (barely noticeable) 🥒
.                                              Most of the Earth (except Australia, South Pacific and Northeast Asia

February 26        Solar      Annular 🌶
.                                              Parts of the Southern Hemisphere

August 7-8        Lunar     Partial (but less than a quarter) 🥒🥒
.                                             Eastern hemisphere

August 21         Solar        TOTAL  🌶🌶🌶🌶
.                                            Path cuts a swath across the belt line of North America!

More details? See EarthSky, Time and DateSky & Telescope, Eclipse 2017, Bustle, New Atlas.

Comet Fly-By

  Following the eclipse on Friday night, Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková will make its closest approach to Earth in its 5 1/4-year orbit around the Sun ~ at 10:30 p.m. EST. According to this article in the Washington Post, “The greenish comet will be visible by telescope and binoculars, but not to the naked eye.”

Comet-45P (NASA)

Comet-45P (NASA)

   For more details, times, photos, and diagrams on the eclipse and comet, see the following articles: Washington Post, UK’s Mirror, EarthSky.

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MOON POETRY

The Moon and I
by Mustafa Tattan

The Moon and I

Hunger Moon
by Jane Cooper

Hunger Moon

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JUST SAYIN’

Continuing the “All of Us” Theme

   I introduced this section in last July’s issue to offer a more unifying perspective on the troubles and pain we humans continue to inflict on each other. Many poets have expressed how calming the moon can be, due ~ among other things ~ to her perspective from above, her constant blessing of us while we deal with chaos below, and also to her silence. (See Just Sayin’ in July’s issue for my expansion on this point of view.)

   This perspective sees all of us as equal passengers on this bright blue marble. My July, August, September, October, November, December and January posts offered songs I’d found expressing this idea in a variety of styles.

   This month the song picked me. As Hungry Heart evolved, it became clear to me that underlying all the pain and angst in this world lives the belief-conviction that love has somehow gone away. Not an original idea by any stretch — you can hear it from pop songs to sermons. But while it’s one thing to talk about it, it’s entirely different (and much more powerful) when it’s direct experience.

   For me, unification with Love is a big part of the experience of bathing in Ms. Luna’s light. And listening/moving to songs like this month’s featured: written by John Lennon and recorded by The Beatles, All You Need Is Love was released as a 45 rpm single (pictured below) in July 1967. According to the Wikipedia article on this song:
When asked in 1971 whether songs like “Give Peace a Chance” and “Power to the People” were propaganda songs, [Lennon] answered: “Sure. So was ‘All You Need Is Love’. I’m a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change.”

   Click the image of the record sleeve to open the YouTube page where you can listen to The Beatles sing this song.

   Excerpt:

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where
You’re meant to be
It’s E-Z.

   Click this AZLyrics page for the full lyrics.

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ASTROLOGY

Moon Travels Through the Zodiac

    Zipping Along. Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the zodiac – the moon takes just a month to complete an entire round. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign.

   Opposition. Some folks have wondered how the moon can be in one sign (Cancer, for example) when the “current” sign is something else (Capricorn, for example). The answer is that the current astrological sign that everyone is familiar with is the sign that the sun is in. (That is called your “sun sign” in astrology.) When the moon is full, it is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun (“opposition”), so at fullness, the moon is in the sign that is opposite the current sun sign. The diagram of the Moon’s orbit in last August’s Moonmotion section will help you visualize opposition.

   Astrologers divide up their heaven into 12 equal pieces, like a pizza: 

zodiac-pizza

   So you can see that when the sun is in the sign Capricorn, the full moon will be in the sign on the opposite side of the pizza . . . Cancer, in this example. Here’s a table that expresses the Moon’s opposition throughout the year, based on the above chart:

zodiac-signs

  Note that we are talking astrological signs here, not actual astronomical constellations; the constellations that you see in the sky have drifted over the eons and thus no longer line up with astrology’s signs. If you feel like diving into the details of signs and constellations, check out the series we did here in EM&S throughout 2014 on “Astronomy and Lore of the Zodiac”. You can sample its beginnings with the January ’14 issue

Moon in Signs and Void of Course

   Technical astrologers call the times while Ms. Luna is in transition from one sign to the next “void of course”. This is considered to be a sort of neither-here-nor-there state, which many people feel as being unsettled or ungrounded. Each astrologer chooses their own method for calculating times of beginning and ending VoC. You can find interesting (though differing) VoC info and tables at Dr. Standley and at Moontracks.

   Referencing the Moontracks table, we find that Ms. Luna entered the sign of Cancer the Crab on Tuesday (7th) at 07:02, and began exiting Cancer — thus beginning VoC — Wednesday at 21:59. She will then enter the sign of Leo on Thursday at 09:41 and remain there through and after fullness, leaving Leo and becoming void again on Saturday at 05:52. Later that day she will enter the next sign, Virgo, at 13:51. (All times here are UT~Universal Time.)

Full Moon in Leo

Off On A Tangent

   Well, it looks like my usual go-to online astrologers have taken this full moon off, so I picked a new feed that looked promising in the hopes it might afford you some insight you may have been seeking.

Tanaaz ~  

Intuitive Astrology:
February Lunar Eclipse

   Tanaaz Chubb is a professional content writer and producer who, among a number of endeavors, manages and directs Forever Conscious – an online holistic community that focuses on spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.

 In her Intuitive Astrology post for this full moon and lunar eclipse, Tanaaz relates the following:

. . . [this] Eclipse in Leo represents the opening of a new gateway and a starting point into the energies of 2017. Eclipses act like doorways into different energy paths, and are powerful enough to transform, shift and change the direction and flow of your life. 

   Hopefully that’s enough to pique your interest into taking a look at Tanaaz’ full article: February Lunar Eclipse 2017. There’s a lot of good material there – and on other pages on her website – so you will want to set aside some quiet time to read and digest.

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Leo Full Moon

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HUMOR

Calvin and Hobbes: What’s Up With the Stars?

   Found another Calvin and Hobbes on astrology that you might enjoy. Here C&H ponder a question that people have asked for eons . . .

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FROM ME TO YOU

    Thank you, dear reader, for visiting EM&S this “moonth”. I hope you liked it.

   Here’s a little bit about me and what this blog is about. I’ve been fascinated with astronomy ever since I learned to read. I’m also interested in how objects in the heavens influence people. In this blog I collect facts and folklore (mostly from the Web) about our moon and other sky phenomena.

   If you especially liked something you saw here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. And please don’t be shy about sharing this post with friends if you like it!

   Note that I have a separate post called ARCHIVES which contains a list of all the titles I’ve posted since the inception of this blog. The titles are clickable of course. Easier and more informative than just the dates that appear in the right-side Archives column. (I’m slowly learning more things I can make WordPress do. There’s a lot there!)

   Until the full moon in March,
here’s wishing all of us a month of connection and love.

~ Moonlight to all,
Marty

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My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect us directly, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that the astrologers I feature express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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A NOTE ON WRITING STYLE

    A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

    When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

    Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

    Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

    So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

    Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

    If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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INTENTION FOR THIS EARTH, MOON AND STARS BLOG

   The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER

Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images or compositions (e.g. songs, poetry) appearing on it. Copyrighted works remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is content appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the item in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.

Posted in astronomy, Constellations, Folklore, moon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

January’s Quiet Wolf Full Moon 2017

Welcome January Full Moon!

Welcome to Issue 1 of Volume IX of Earth, Moon and Stars!

IN THIS ISSUE
(click any of these section links)

INTRO

   If you’re new here and would like to learn first more about what we’re up to, click on Me to You to jump to my Intro section. (There’s a link there that will take you back to the above table of contents when you are ready.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’

FULLNESS
 The moon will become technically full Thursday January 12 at 11:34 UTC
, correspondingly earlier in time zones west of the Prime Meridian, later in time zones to the east. (See my December 2014 issue for some clarification about UTC and 24-hour time.)

   Because exact fullness will occur this time close to noon at the Prime Meridian (PM), Ms. Luna will appear fullest on Wednesday night west of the PM to the International Date Line, Thursday night east of the PM to the Date Line. Check Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones.

CELEBRATIONS
   The Lunar New Year is coming up at the new moon at the end of the month. See the Celebrations section for pics and details.

MOON NAMES
   Wolf Moon is the most popular name for this moon. In the references that say “Quite” Moon I think it’s a dyslexic typo.  Check out Moon Names for my take and some cool pics.

The Wood Pile (Erin Vaganos – Fine Art America)

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ECLIPSES OF 2017 | The “Big One” in August
   The fewest possible number of lunar/solar eclipses this year — BUT — one of them will be a blockbuster! Not too early to begin planning. Click Skywatch for details.

MOON POETRY
   I love it when I trip across moon poetry that resonates with my take on Ms. Luna’s energy. Take a trip to the Moon Poetry section for some delight.

JUST SAYIN’
   In this next installment of my personal opinion section Just Sayin’, I continue the theme of All of Us with another song that just about everyone knows. If you tilt your head just right, it can fit in with this month’s Quiet Wolf theme, too.

ASTROLOGY
  Astrologer Æterna offers us insight at this full moon in Cancer in Astrology. 

HUMOR
  In continuation of our Humor section, a Calvin and Hobbes prequel.

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SEASONAL CALENDAR
Moon Dates and Times

January’s full moon       Thursday Jan 12 11:34 UTC; 1:34 pm IST; 7:34 pm AWST/PHT; 10:34 pm AEDT
.                                            Thursday Jan 12 7:34 am AST; 6:34 am EST; 3:34 am PST; 1:34 am HAST

January’s new moon      Saturday Jan 28 00:07 UTC; 2:07 am IST; 8:07 am AWST/PHT; 11:07 am AEDT
.                                            Friday Jan 27 8:07 pm AST; 7:07 pm EST; 4:07 pm PST; 2:07 pm HAST

February’s full moon       Saturday Feb 11 00:33 UTC; 2:33 am IST; 8:33 am AWST/PHT; 11:33 am AEDT
.                                             Friday Feb 10 8:33 pm AST; 7:33 pm EST; 4:33 pm PST; 2:33 pm HAST

February’s new moon    Sunday Feb 26 14:58 UTC; 4:58 pm IST; 10:58 pm AWST/PHT
.                                            Sunday Feb 26 10:58 am AST; 9:58 am EST; 6:58 am PST; 4:58 am HAST
.                                            Monday Feb 27 1:58 am AEDT
 

.                                  Check out Moon Giant to find Full Moon and New Moon times for your local time zone.

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MOON CELEBRATIONS

Lunar New Year

   The Chinese (or Lunar) New Year, officially known as the ‘Spring Festival‘, is the most important (and at 15 days, the longest) of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is observed by Chinese communities worldwide.

Chinese New Year Dragons (Reuters)

Chinese New Year Dragons (Reuters)

   The Spring Festival, marking the end of the winter season (analogous to the Western Carnival), begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. This is always on a new moon – usually the second new moon after the Winter Solstice (as it is this year). Sometimes it is on the third new moon after the Winter Solstice. Noting that the Winter Solstice (a solar event, not a lunar event) plays a role here, you can see why the modern Chinese calendar is not a pure lunar calendar, but a lunisolar calendar, having adjustments inserted as needed in order to not get too far out of sync with the seasons.

   This year the Chinese New Year (year 4714 according to the Huángdì era) will begin on the new moon Saturday, January 28 on the (Western) Gregorian calendar, and will end with the Lantern Festival on the full moon (Saturday, February 11). The Lantern Festival has been commercialized in Hong Kong as Chinese Valentine’s Day.

   According to the Chinese Zodiac, this year will be the Year of the (Yin) Red Fire Rooster — or Chicken, since it is a yin, or female stem-branch.

   Note that the astrological reckoning for determining the animal year uses a traditional counting system that is not determined by the lunar calendar. Thus the Chinese astrological new year, considered by Chinese astrologers as the Start of Spring, begins on February 4 in China, when it will still be February 3 most places east of the International Date Line.  (Someday I hope to understand these details of the Chinese calendars. Perhaps by next year at this time. . .)

rooster-2017

The two-week Spring Festival ends with the Lantern Festival, which occurs on the night of the first full moon of the lunisolar New Year, the 15th day of the lunar month.

   The Lantern Festival will be celebrated in many countries this year on Saturday, February 11. (Refs: Wikipedia~Chinese New Year, Wikipedia~Chinese zodiac, Chinese Fortune Calendar)

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MOON NAMES

Quiet Wolf Moon

   As you know, many cultures around the world kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Most of these were appropriate for the season in which they occurred and keyed to the goings-on in their natural environment.

   I think uplifting traditions are good for us, as they link us to thought lineages that, having marinated over time, have refined their wisdom to essentials. That’s one reason I like these various moon names — and not just the popular ones.

   Wolf Moon has caught on and wins the popularity vote. Its origins appear to be Medieval English and the Algonquin Nation, tho it’s not clear who was first. Maybe it’s not that important — the picture of a pack of hungry wolves standing in January snow and howling at the full moon is enough for me.

wolves-howling-at-moon   We’ve mentioned the Wolf Moon in a number of previous issues:

The January Full Wolf Moon is Howling for You! (January 2011)
January’s Full Winter Holiday Ice Wolf Moon (January 2012)
January’s Rowan Ice Wolf Moon  (January 2013)
January’s Joyful Wolf Holiday Full Moon (January 2014)

   Quiet Moon is quite a different story. While I did find “quiet” in one reference, most sites I visited listed “quite moon”, which looked to me like a dyslexic typo. It didn’t make any sense to me and since I couldn’t find an explanation, I’m going with quiet, whose origin is apparently Celtic. I like the idea of a quiet moon because — as I’ve mused here in the past — her silence is like a deep meditation that calls to the stillness in the center of our being, like the calm eye of a storm while the wild winds swirl around us.

   In a search for a graphic for “Celtic quiet moon”, I found this beautiful (copyrighted) piece by one Sabine Gessner.

Celtic Moon (© Sabine Gessner)

   The only place it appears to live on the Web is on a 2-hour YouTube video called “Celtic Moon, Celtic Music“. Click the artist’s name above to go to her Facebook page.

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SKYWATCH ~ THE ECLIPSES OF 2017

Especially the “Big One” in August 

  As this Sky & Telescope post points out, in any given year the number of lunar and solar eclipses combined can vary from four (minimum) to seven (maximum).  In terms of count, 2017 will be ho-hum because we will have only four. Further, the two lunar eclipses (1 or 2 cucumbers🥒) won’t be worth losing any sleep over. The annular solar eclipse in February will be okay (1 red pepper🌶) if you happen to be in southern Africa or Argentina at the time. But the big news is the total solar eclipse in August (🌶🌶🌶🌶). Whoa Momma!

February 10-11   Lunar    Penumbral (barely noticeable) 🥒
.                                              Most of the Earth (except Australia, South Pacific and Northeast Asia

February 26        Solar      Annular 🌶
.                                              Parts of the Southern Hemisphere

August 7-8        Lunar     Partial (but less than a quarter) 🥒🥒
.                                              Eastern hemisphere

August 21         Solar        TOTAL  🌶🌶🌶🌶
.                                            Path cuts a swath across the belt line of North America!

   The August solar eclipse is a rather big deal, because it will be total, unlike many other solar eclipses. AND it will cut right across the midsection of the United States. (Now admittedly there will be another sorta similar total eclipse in 2024, but it won’t cover the same area at all, and besides so much can happen between now and then.)

   I’m alerting you now so you can start making plans if you want to observe it. Be aware you won’t be alone — people from all around the globe will descend on favored spots along the Moon’s shadow path to observe this event. Here is a screenshot of NASA’s Google map of the path:

Path of Solar Eclipse (Aug 2017)

Path of Solar Eclipse (Aug 2017)

    Click on the map to open a new window where you can interact with the actual live map.

    More details? See Time and DateSky & Telescope, Eclipse 2017, Bustle, New Atlas.

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MOON POETRY

Moonchild 

There was a reason
that she was so
romantic about the moon.

It never asked her questions
or begged for answers,
nor did she ever have to prove
herself to it.

It was always just there –
breathing, shining,
and in ways most
humans can’t understand:
listening.

-Christopher Poindexter

Moonchild

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JUST SAYIN’

Continuing the “All of Us” Theme

   I introduced this section in last July’s issue to offer a more unifying perspective on the troubles and pain we humans continue to inflict on each other. Many poets have expressed how calming the moon can be, due ~ among other things ~ to her perspective from above, her constant blessing of us while we deal with chaos below, and also to her silence. (See Just Sayin’ in July’s issue for my expansion on this point of view.)

   This perspective sees all of us as equal passengers on this bright blue marble. My July, August, September, October, November and December posts offered songs I’d found expressing this idea in a variety of styles.

   This month I picked some more low-hanging fruit with a song that just about everyone knows. Still, it can bear listening to again. It links with last month’s Respect theme and, if you tilt your head just right, it can sync with this month’s Quiet Wolf theme. Extrapolate from the literal “black and white” message and you find yourself in universal inclusivity land. So take another listen to Ebony and Ivory, written by Paul McCartney and recorded as a duet with Stevie Wonder in 1982. Click the photo to open the YouTube page where you can watch and listen to this pair work their magic with this song.

"Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney, recorded with Stevie Wonder (1982)

“Ebony and Ivory” with Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney (1982)

   Excerpt:

We all know
that people are the same
wherever you go

   Click this MetroLyrics link for the full lyrics.

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ASTROLOGY

Moon Travels Through the Zodiac

  Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the zodiac – the Moon takes just a month to complete an entire round. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign.

Moon in Signs and Void of Course

   Technical astrologers call the times while Ms. Luna is in transition from one sign to the next “void of course”. This is considered to be a sort of neither-here-nor-there state, which many people feel as being unsettled or ungrounded. Each astrologer chooses their own method for calculating times of beginning and ending VoC. You can find interesting (though differing) VoC info and tables at Dr. Standley and at Moontracks.

   Referencing the Moontracks table, we find that Ms. Luna entered the sign of Cancer the Crab on Tuesday (10th) at 22:48; she will remain there until she becomes full on Thursday (12th) at 11:34, at which time she will begin exiting Cancer and become VoC. Then on Friday (13th) just after midnight at the Prime Meridian, she will enter the next sign, Leo, at 00:07. (Times here are UT~Universal Time.)

Full Moon in Cancer the Crab

Æterna ~  

Cancer Full Moon
“Marching to the Heartbeats”

   Æterna is a professional astrologer based in Italy, who also runs her own website Aeternalight Astrology “The Cosmic Path to a Conscious Life”, where she claims introspection and compassionate understanding as two of the major assets she brings to her astrology practice.

   For this full moon, Æterna tells us that this is a time for us to take a  . . .

. . . journey back home to ourselves [that] might unfold in ways that are more uproarious, turbulent and spasmodic than expected. Cancer is the roots, the womb, the safe haven, the warm embrace, the raw nerve, the sore spot, the vulnerable core. 

   Hopefully that’s enough to pique your interest in taking a look at Æterna’s full article: Full Moon in Cancer – Marching to the Heartbeats. Because her style is both sensitive and pithy, you will want to set aside some quiet time to reflect on her offerings. 

Full Moon in Cancer

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HUMOR

Calvin and Hobbes: A kinda time warp

   Even tho the Calvin and Hobbes series we began in July concluded last month, in the grand prequel tradition of Star Wars and others we present our daring dyad contemplating the stars

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FROM ME TO YOU

    Thank you, dear reader, for visiting EM&S this “moonth”. I hope you liked it.

   Here’s a little bit about me and what this blog is about. I’ve been fascinated with astronomy ever since I learned to read. I’m also interested in how objects in the heavens influence people. In this blog I collect facts and folklore about our moon and other sky phenomena.

   If you especially liked something you saw here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. And please don’t be shy about sharing this post with friends if you like it!

   Note that I have a separate post called ARCHIVES which contains a list of all the titles I’ve posted since the inception of this blog. The titles are clickable of course. Easier and more informative than just the dates that appear in the right-side Archives column. (I’m slowly learning more things I can make WordPress do. There’s a lot there!)

   Until the full moon in February,
here’s wishing all of us a month of satisfying journey.

~ Moonlight to all,
Marty

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My Personal Take on Astrology

   Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect us directly, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that the astrologers I feature express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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A Note on Writing Style

   A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.
  When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.
  Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon. Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.
  So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”
  Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.
  If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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INTENTION FOR THIS EARTH, MOON AND STARS BLOG

   The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER

Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images or compositions (e.g. songs, poetry) appearing on it. Copyrighted works remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is content appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the item in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.

Posted in astronomy, Constellations, Folklore, moon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

December’s Super Full Moon of Respect

Welcome December Full Moon!

Welcome to Issue 12 of Volume VIII of Earth, Moon and Stars!

IN THIS ISSUE
(click any of these section links)

INTRO

   If you’re new here and would like to learn first more about what we’re up to, click on Me to You to jump to my Intro section. (There’s a link there that will take you back to the above table of contents when you are ready.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’

FULLNESS
   The moon will become technically full Wednesday December 14 at 00:06 UT
, correspondingly earlier in time zones west of the Prime Meridian, later in time zones to the east. (See my December 2014 issue for some clarification about UT-Universal Time.)

  Because technical fullness will occur this time just a few minutes after midnight at the Prime Meridian, Ms. Luna will appear fullest on Tuesday night almost everywhere on Earth. Folks just west of the International Date Line (Philippines, Australia, etc.) will get an approximately equal show Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Check Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones.

MOON NAMES
   In these trying times, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the Hopi name for this full moon: Respect. Check out Moon Names for the full story and a pic.

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SUPER MOON
   The last in the current trifecta of “super” moons. Check out the Skywatch section for the details.

STAR OF BETHLEHEM NOT AN ACTUAL STAR?
   The Star of Bethlehem may not have been an actual star. Check out the Starwatch section for the details.

JUST SAYIN’
   In this next installment of my new personal opinion section Just Sayin’, I continue the theme of All of Us with another song from the sixties that fits right in with this month’s theme.

ASTROLOGY
  Astrologers Æterna and Molly Hall offer us insight at this full moon in Gemini in Astrology. 

HUMOR
  In continuation of our new Humor section, fear strikes Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) as he and Hobbes read his latest horoscope.

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SEASONAL CALENDAR
Moon Dates and Times

December’s full moon    Wednesday Dec 14 00:06 UT; 2:06 am IST; 8:06 am AWST/PHT; 11:06 am AEDT
.                                            Tuesday Dec 13  7:06 pm EST; 4:06 pm PST; 2:06 pm HAST

December Solstice           Tuesday Dec 22  04:49 UT; 2:06 am IST; 8:06 am AWST/PHT; 11:06 am AEDT
.                                            Monday Dec 21  11:49 pm EST; 8:49 pm PST; 6:49 pm HAST

December’s new moon  Thursday Dec 29 06:53 UT; 8:53 am IST; 2:53 pm AWST/PHT; 5:53 pm AEDT
.                                            Thursday Dec 29 1:53 am EST
.                                            Wednesday Dec 28  8:53 pm HAST; 10:53 pm PST

January’s full moon       Thursday Jan 12 11:34 UT; 1:34 pm IST; 7:34 pm AWST/PHT; 10:34 pm AEDT
.                                            Thursday Jan 12 6:34 am EST; 3:34 am PST; 1:34 am HAST

January’s new moon      Saturday Jan 28 00:07 UT; 2:07 am IST; 8:07 am AWST/PHT; 11:07 am AEDT
.                                            Friday Jan 27 7:07 pm EST; 4:07 pm PST; 2:07 pm HAST

.                                  Check out Moon Giant to find Full Moon and New Moon times for your local time zone.

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SEASONINGS

Solstice Time Again

   Tuesday (22nd) or Monday (21st), depending on your time zone (see exact times above), will mark the December solstice — the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.  This is the time when the sun “stops” in its apparent movement southward and begins moving north again. (Remember – solstice means “sun standing still”.) Daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere have been waning ever since the June solstice. We in the North have paid our dues — it’s time for the return of the light!

   We did a rather extensive treatment of the solstice in the Seasonings section of our December 2014 issue. Click there if you’re curious for some diagrams and more details.

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MOON NAMES

Moon of Respect

   As you know, many cultures around the world kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. While most of these were appropriate for the season in which they occurred and keyed to the goings-on in their natural environment — sometimes the name was of a broader theme. True for this month’s choice. 

Native Moon Goddess

   The Hopi (living in the present-day corner where Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet) called this month’s moon Moon of Respect. According to the Wikipedia article on these peoples, the Hopi called themselves “The Peaceful People”, with the word “Hopi” meaning “behaving one, one who is mannered, civilized, peaceable.” (refs: Everything Under the Moon, Wikipedia)

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SKYWATCH ~ THE LAST SUPER MOON IN THIS SERIES

But Will You Be Able to Notice the Difference? 

  The full moon this month will be the third “super” moon in the current trifecta of super full moons that began in October. If you missed my last month’s post, you can check there for the scoop on how “super” it was, and why I thought all the fuss about its being the “super-est” was a tempest in a teapot.

So What Exactly is a “Supermoon”?
   Because the Moon’s orbit is elliptical in shape, its distance from the Earth fluctuates throughout each month. Its closest approach is called perigee (“closest to Earth”). Quite regularly, perigee occurs near the time of a full moon, causing the moon to appear slightly larger and brighter than usual. On slightly rarer occasions, perigee and fullness occur within less than two hours of each other. That is the case this time.

   Astronomers have for a long time referred to the confluence of perigee and fullness as a “perigee full moon”. Then in 1979, astrologer Richard Nolle made up the term “super” moon, arbitrarily defining it as any full or new moon that is within 90% of perigee. That casts a fairly wide net, as you can surmise.

What to Look for This Full Moon
   Though you won’t be able to distinguish this supermoon from other supermoons, you will be able to tell that it’s larger and brighter than when it’s an average full moon.

Supermoon vs. Average Moon

The supermoon of March 19, 2011 (right), compared to an average moon of December 20, 2010 (left). Image via Marco Langbroek, the Netherlands, via Wikimedia Commons.

  And as with any full moon, super or not, your best bet to be impressed by bigness will be when Ms. Luna is near the horizon. Check Seasonal Calendar, above, or TimeandDate for technical fullness times in your time zone. For moonrise and moonset times in your location, go to this TimeandDate page. (Remember that at the full moon, the moon rises as the sun sets, and sets as the sun rises.)

   While this supermoon won’t be quite as close to Earth as it was last month, the difference in size and brightness will be so small you won’t be able to tell the difference. It will be large and bright and beautiful. So, if clouds cooperate, go outside and take a moon bath!

  For lots more on the where/when/how/why of this phenomenon, plus some interesting photos, check out these web pages:
EarthSky   |   Snopes   |   Farmer’s Almanac   |   Space   |   NASA

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STARWATCH

The Star of  Bethlehem – Probably Wasn’t a Star 

   Perhaps you’ve heard the recent hubub about the Star of Bethlehem not being an actual star. For a long time, astronomers have puzzled about what could have caused such a rare phenomenon, some proposing in years past that maybe it was a supernova (Wikipedia).

   Now, after studying historical, astronomical and biblical records for more than a decade, Grant Mathews, professor of theoretical astrophysics and cosmology at the University of Notre Dame, has come forth stating that he believes the event that led the Magi — Zoroastrian priests of ancient Babylon and Mesopotamia — was not a star at all, but rather an extremely rare planetary alignment occurring in 6 B.C., the likes of which may never be seen again.

Planetary Alignment

   For all the details, check out this University of Notre Dame article. And if you want to entertain yourself for hours, just Google “Grant Matthews Star of Bethlehem”.

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JUST SAYIN’

Continuing the “All of Us” Theme

   I introduced this section in July’s issue to offer a more unifying perspective on the troubles and pain we humans continue to inflict on each other. Many poets have expressed how calming the moon can be, due ~ among other things ~ to her perspective from above, her constant blessing of us while we deal with chaos below, and also to her silence. (See Just Sayin’ in July’s issue for my expansion on this point of view.)

   This perspective sees all of us as equal passengers on this bright blue marble. My July, August, September, October, and November posts offered songs I’d found expressing this idea in a variety of styles.

   This month’s “Respect” theme syncs well with this outlook. Whether in intimate relationships, talking with the checkout clerk, or bumping into that stranger coming out the door you’re going in, we’re all humans trying to deal with what Life is throwing at us. So this month another song from the sixties, this time from the Woodstock era, Everyday People by Sly & The Family Stone. Click the photo to open the YouTube page where you can listen to the group singing it in a very fun and well-produced video.

Everyday People ~ Sly and the Family Stone

   Excerpt:

I am no better and neither are you
We are the same, whatever we do
We got to live together
I am everyday people

   Click this AZLyrics link for the full lyrics.

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ASTROLOGY

Moon Travels Through the Zodiac

  Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the zodiac – the moon takes just a month to complete an entire round. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign.

Moon in Signs and Void of Course

   Technical astrologers call the times while Ms. Luna is in transition from one sign to the next “void of course”. This is considered to be a sort of neither-here-nor-there state, which many people feel as being unsettled or ungrounded. Each astrologer chooses their own method for calculating times of beginning and ending VoC. You can find interesting (though differing) VoC info and tables at Dr. Standley and at Moontracks.

   Referencing the Moontracks table, we find that Ms. Luna entered the sign of Gemini on Monday (12th) at 12:41; she will remain there until after she becomes full on Wednesday (14th) at 00:06, and then at 05:57, will begin exiting Gemini and become VoC. Later the same day she will enter the next sign, Cancer, at 12:08. (Times here are UT~Universal Time.)

Full Moon in Gemini

Æterna ~  

Gemini Full Moon
“Thoughtforms”

   Æterna is a professional astrologer based in Italy, who also runs her own website Aeternalight Astrology “The Cosmic Path to a Conscious Life”, where she claims introspection and compassionate understanding as two of the major assets she brings to her astrology practice.

   For this full moon, Æterna tells us that Gemini addresses “embracing the creative possibilities of the mind.” Insightful and reflective, Æterna brings in an astrological perspective:

Gemini comes alive through collecting, absorbing and delivering information, in an incessant dialogue with the surroundings. 

   Hopefully that’s enough to pique your interest in taking a look at Æterna’s full article: Full Moon in Gemini – Thoughtforms. Because her style is both sensitive and pithy, you will want to set aside some quiet time to read and reflect on what she writes. 

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Molly Hall ~  

Full Moon in Gemini

   Molly Hall is resident astrologer at about.com, where she provides both technical and practical insights derived from traditional interpretations of the positions of the stars and planets.

   Although she didn’t write a post specifically for this December’s full moon, Molly does have an article on the full moon in Gemini, in which she writes:

Under the Gemini Moon, the trickster is afoot. Humor becomes a way of defusing super serious situations.

   Intriguing and practical at the same time. Check out Molly’s article “Transiting Moon in Gemini“.

   In addition to her insights around full moons, Molly offers the following helpful articles:

   Also visit Molly’s front page for lots more interesting astrology.

Full moon in Gemini

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HUMOR

Calvin and Hobbes: A new horror-scope

   In this final installment of the Calvin and Hobbes series we began in July, Calvin’s new horoscope strikes terror in his heart

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FROM ME TO YOU

    Thank you, dear reader, for visiting EM&S this “moonth”. I hope you liked it.

   Here’s a little bit about me and what this blog is about. I’ve been fascinated with astronomy ever since I learned to read. I’m also interested in how objects in the heavens influence people. In this blog I collect facts and folklore about our moon and other sky phenomena.

   If you especially liked something you saw here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. And please don’t be shy about sharing this post with friends if you like it!

   Note that I have a separate post called ARCHIVES which contains a list of all the titles I’ve posted since the inception of this blog. The titles are clickable of course. Easier and more informative than just the dates that appear in the right-side Archives column. (I’m slowly learning more things I can make WordPress do. There’s a lot there!)

   Until the full moon in January,
here’s wishing all of us a month of peace and respect.

~ Moonlight to all,
Marty

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My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect us directly, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that the astrologers I feature express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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A NOTE ON WRITING STYLE

    A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

    When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

    Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

    Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

    So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

    Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

    If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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INTENTION FOR THIS EARTH, MOON AND STARS BLOG

   The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER

Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images or compositions (e.g. songs, poetry) appearing on it. Copyrighted works remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is content appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the item in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.

Posted in astronomy, Constellations, Folklore, moon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

November’s Gathered Super Full Moon

Happy November Full Moon!

Welcome to Issue 11 of Volume VIII of Earth, Moon and Stars!

IN THIS ISSUE
(click any of these section links)

INTRO

   If you’re new here and would like to learn first more about what’s going on here, click on Me to You to jump to my Intro section. (There’s a link there that will take you back to the above table of contents when you are ready.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’

FULLNESS
   The moon will become technically full Monday November 14 at 13:52 UT
, correspondingly earlier in time zones west of the Prime Meridian, later in time zones to the east. (See my December 2014 issue for some clarification about UT-Universal Time.)

  Because technical fullness will occur this time in the middle of the day at the Prime Meridian, the cusp this time will fall around Iceland’s meridian, and thus Ms. Luna will appear there equally full both Sunday and Monday nights. Further west to the International Date Line will see closer to maximum fullness on Sunday night, while Monday night will favor folks east of the cusp. Check Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones.

   Remember though that since she appears full up to twelve hours either side of technical fullness, people almost everywhere will get a full show both Sunday and Monday nights. The closer you approach the Date Line from the east, Sunday night will be favored, while from the west side of the Line it will be Monday. Of course, all this depends on whether you are an early evening observer or a wee hours/early morning observer. So let’s just go out both nights and howl.

MOON NAMES
   This month we’re departing from the plant and tree moon name themes we’ve featured since June, and turning to the theme of Gathering in Gratitude. Check out Moon Names for the full story and some pics.

Dark Night Moon

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SUPER DUPER MOON
   The second in the current trifecta of “super” moons, this one will be the “superest” since 1948. (But not by enough that you will be able to discern.) Check out the Skywatch section for the details.

MOON MOTION QUIZ
   Continuing the journey we began in our July issue, here’s the next installment in my attempt to pique your interest in how our nearest sky neighbor shakes, rattles, and rolls. As noted in July when we began this new adventure, since the details of this rather large subject can become complex, we’re approaching it in small, simple steps. Here’s the quiz question for this month:

.Q: In what way does the Moon orbit the Earth?

Full disclosure: this may be a trick question. Click Moonmotion to see the “treat” of an answer.

JUST SAYIN’
   In this next installment of my new personal opinion section Just Sayin’, I continue the theme of All of Us with a song that just about everyone on Earth has heard and/or sung. I feel it is appropriate right now, given the tenor of recent times.

ASTROLOGY
  Astrologers Æterna and Molly Hall offer us insight at this full moon in Taurus in Astrology. 

HUMOR
  In continuation of our new Humor section, Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) is dismayed when the predictions of his horoscope don’t materialize.

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SEASONAL CALENDAR
Moon Dates and Times

November’s full moon    Monday Nov 14 13:52 UT; 3:52 am HAST; 5:52 am PST; 8:52 am EST
.                                            Monday Nov 14 3:52 pm IST; 9:52 pm AWST/PHT
.                                            Tuesday Nov 15 12:52 am AEDT

November’s new moon  Tuesday Nov 29 12:18 UT; 2:18 am HAST; 4:18 am PST; 7:18 am EST
.                                            Tuesday Nov 29 2:18 pm IST; 8:18 pm AWST/PHT; 11:18 pm AEDT

December’s full moon    Wednesday Dec 14 00:06 UT; 2:06 am IST; 8:06 am AWST/PHT; 11:06 am AEDT
.                                            Tuesday Dec 13  7:06 pm EST; 4:06 pm PST; 2:06 pm HAST

December Solstice           Tuesday Dec 22  04:49 UT; 2:06 am IST; 8:06 am AWST/PHT; 11:06 am AEDT
.                                            Monday Dec 21  11:49 pm EST; 8:49 pm PST; 6:49 pm HAST

December’s new moon  Thursday Dec 29 06:53 UT; 8:53 am IST; 2:53 pm AWST/PHT; 5:53 pm AEDT
.                                            Thursday Dec 29 1:53 am EST
.                                            Wednesday Dec 28  8:53 pm HAST; 10:53 pm PST

.                                        Check out Moon Giant to find Full Moon and New Moon times for your local time zone.

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MOON NAMES

Gathering in Gratitude Moon

   As you know, many cultures around the world kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon, appropriate for the season in which it occurred and keyed – naturally enough – to the goings-on in their natural environment . . . the weather, the plants, the animals.

Grateful Moon

Grateful Moon

   In previous Novembers we’ve featured a number of folk names this full moon has been and is known by. The prevailing name that the Old Farmer’s Almanac and other sources report is Beaver Moon – the full moon following the Hunter’s Moon. We honored this name in 2011 (November’s Full Beaver Moon), 2012 (November’s Falling Leaves Beaver Moon) and in 2013 (November’s Frosty Tiger Shark Moon).  In 2014 we featured the Full Frosty Freezing Moon, and last year it was the Freezing Rivers Full Moon.

  At least two tribes indigenous to North America named this full moon Moon When All Is Gathered In: the Tewa Pueblo (Southwest, New Mexico) and the San Juan Native Americans (Southwest) (refs: American Indian Moons, Everything Under the Moon.)

  While clearly the traditional reference is to gathering in the crops, I am taking liberty here to extend this to gathering in together in honoring and recognition of how we are better and stronger when we set aside our little differences and focus instead on how we are all similar. And how grateful we are not only for our bounty, but for each other.

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SKYWATCH ~ SUPER-est MOON

But Will You Be Able to Notice the Difference? 

  The full moon this month will be the second “super” moon in the current trifecta of full moons, beginning last month in October and ending next month in December. A lot of hay has been made around this coming “super” full moon, because that big ball of rock will loom closer to Earth at fullness than it has been since 1948, and won’t be as close again until 2034.

So What Exactly is a “Supermoon”?
   Because the Moon’s orbit is elliptical in shape, its distance from the Earth fluctuates throughout each month. Its closest approach is called “perigee” (meaning “nearest to Earth”). Quite regularly, perigee occurs near the time of a full moon, causing the moon to appear slightly larger and brighter than usual. On slightly rarer occasions, perigee and fullness occur within less than two hours of each other. That is the case this time.

   Astronomers have for a long time referred to the confluence of perigee and fullness as a “perigee full moon”. Then in 1979, astrologer Richard Nolle made up the term “super” moon, arbitrarily defining it as any full or new moon that is within 90% of perigee. That casts a fairly wide net, as you can surmise.

So What’s the Big Deal This Time?
This supermoon will be the closest to Earth since 1948, and will hold that record until 2034. But just like ads that shout “lowest price in town”, the real question is: “by how much?” If you can stand a tiny bit of number crunching, take a look at these distances of previous  full moons:

Year Date Distance
2011 March 19 356,575 km
2012 May 6 356,955 km
2013 June 23 356,991 km
2014 August 10 356,896 km
2015 September 28 356,877 km
 2016 November 14 356,509 km

   Compare 2011 with 2016. That’s only 66 km (41 mi) closer this time. As a percentage of the distance from us, 66 km is 0.0185%, or approximately two ten-thousandths closer than in 2011.

  In 1948, the full moon perigee was 356,461 km. In 2034, it will be 356,445 km. Comparing 1948 with 2016 (509-461 = 48 km) or 30 mi closer in 1948 than this time. As a percentage of the mean distance apart, that’s 0.0135%, or approximately one-and-a third ten-thousandths closer in 1948. Do you think you will be able to detect the difference?

What to Look for This Full Moon
   Though you won’t be able to distinguish this supermoon from other supermoons, you will be able to tell that it’s larger and brighter than when it’s an average full moon.

Supermoon vs. Average Moon

The supermoon of March 19, 2011 (right), compared to an average moon of December 20, 2010 (left). Image via Marco Langbroek, the Netherlands, via Wikimedia Commons.

  And as with any full moon, super or not, your best bet to be impressed by bigness will be when Ms. Luna is near the horizon. And if you want to be able to tell your grandchildren you saw it at its biggest, catch her somewhere between perigee (about an hour and a half just before technical fullness) and fullness. Check Seasonal Calendar, above, or TimeandDate for technical fullness times in your time zone. Subtract an hour and a half to determine perigee time. For moonrise and moonset times, go to this TimeandDate page. (Remember that at the full moon, the moon rises as the sun sets, and sets as the sun rises.)

  For lots more on the where/when/how/why of this phenomenon, plus some interesting photos, check out these web pages:
EarthSky   |   Snopes   |   Farmer’s Almanac   |   Space   |   NASA

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CELESTIAL MECHANICS ~ MOON MOTION

The Dance of the Earth and Moon

    Q: In what way does the Moon orbit the Earth?
    A: Trick question because, in actuality, the Earth and Moon dance together around their common center of mass. Now, aren’t you glad you asked?

The Earth-Moon Barycenter
   Though it is common to say that the Moon orbits the Earth, in fact they both orbit their common center of mass, known as the “Earth-Moon barycenter.”

Barycenter and the Two-Body Problem

   Gravity is the master dance caller in the universe. Technically speaking, the Earth, Moon and Sun are partners in a complex 3-way dance, because each one is influenced by the gravitational fields of the other two. (If you want to polish the pebble, you would include Jupiter, too, because of its very large mass.)

   For general purposes, people usually consider the Earth and Moon as an example of what is known as the Two Body Problem, of which there are innumerable examples in our galaxy alone. Other examples of two bodies orbiting a common center of mass include all the binary star systems. Closer to home, Jupiter and the Sun dance around their own common center of mass, which btw lies outside the Sun’s perimeter.

  Below is a simplified diagram of what’s going on between Earth and the Moon. If you want to delve more deeply into this subject (and see some animations), see the article “Barycenter” (Wikipedia).

Earth-Moon Barycenter Diagram

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JUST SAYIN’

Continuing the “All of Us” Theme

   I introduced this section in July’s issue to offer a more unifying perspective on the troubles and pain we humans continue to inflict on each other. Many poets have expressed how calming the moon can be, due ~ among other things ~ to her perspective from above, her constant blessing of us while we deal with chaos below, and also to her silence. (See Just Sayin’ in July’s issue for my expansion on this point of view.)

   This perspective sees all of us as equal passengers on this bright blue marble. My July, August, September and October posts offered songs in a variety of styles I’d found expressing this idea. I think this theme of inclusivity and dissolving the artificial barriers we’ve created between us is so crucial to saving us from ourselves, I’ve continued it this month with a song from my generation, Imagine by John Lennon of the Beatles. Click the photo to open the YouTube page where you can watch and listen to him singing it – with Yoko Ono by his side.

“Imagine” John Lennon (with Yoko Ono)

   Excerpt:

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

   Click this AZLyrics link for the full lyrics.

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ASTROLOGY

Moon Travels Through the Zodiac

  Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the zodiac – the moon takes just a month to complete an entire round. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign.

Moon in Signs and Void of Course

   Technical astrologers call the times while Ms. Luna is in transition from one sign to the next “void of course”. This is considered to be a sort of neither-here-nor-there state, which many people feel as being unsettled or ungrounded. Each astrologer chooses their own method for calculating times of beginning and ending VoC. You can find interesting (though differing) VoC info and tables at Dr. Standley and at Moontracks.

   Referencing the Moontracks table, we find that Ms. Luna will enter the sign of Taurus on Sunday (13th) at 02:23; she will remain there until she becomes full on Monday (14th) at 13:52, at which time she will begin exiting Taurus and (according to Moontracks) become VoC. She will then enter the next sign, Gemini, the next day Tuesday (15th) at 01:23. (Times here are UT~Universal Time.)

Full Moon in Taurus

Æterna ~  

Taurus Full Moon
“Spirits in the Material World”

   Æterna is a professional astrologer based in Italy, who also runs her own website Aeternalight Astrology “The Cosmic Path to a Conscious Life”, where she claims introspection and compassionate understanding as two of the major assets she brings to her astrology practice.

   For this full moon in Taurus, Æterna addresses the “very real concerns we have to deal with while walking our spiritual path.” Insightful and reflective, Æterna brings in an astrological perspective:

Now is the time to talk about Taurus, its organic, calming energy, its unapologetic affirmation of the importance of our bodily dimension. Its link with the basic conditions that allow us to survive and thrive, as spiritual beings, in a material world. Its rulership over everything we’re still allowed to care about even as spiritually minded people – financial self-sustenance, material goods. 

   Hopefully that’s enough to pique your interest in taking a look at Æterna’s full article: Full Moon in Taurus – Spirits in the Material World. Because her style is both sensitive and pithy, you will want to set aside some quiet time to read and reflect on what she writes. 

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Molly Hall ~  

Super Full Moon in Taurus ~ Earthing Possibilities

   Molly Hall is resident astrologer at about.com, where she provides both technical and practical insights derived from traditional interpretations of the positions of the stars and planets.

   For this super moon in Taurus, Molly says:

Deep longings surface, and desires are strong, [and] the chances for practical magic are high. That means shifting a situation at a deep level, or tapping soul wisdom for the answer to an everyday issue. Take time to settle into those deeply relaxed states that allow you to ally with the natural world, the Earth and its rhythms.

   Intriguing and practical at the same time. Additionally, Molly offers a forecast for Taurus in each of the twelve Houses. To get the full 4-1-1 on this full moon, check out Molly’s article “Taurus Full Moon ~ Earthing Possibilities“.

   In addition to her insights around full moons, Molly offers the following helpful articles:

   Also visit Molly’s front page for lots more interesting astrology.

Full Moon in Taurus

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HUMOR

Calvin and Hobbes: Bewildered with Science

   In this fifth installment of the Calvin and Hobbes series we began in July, Calvin is dismayed with the (non-)results of his horoscope’s predictions . . .

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FROM ME TO YOU

    Thank you, dear reader, for visiting EM&S this “moonth”. I hope you liked it.

   If you especially liked something you saw here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. And please don’t be shy about sharing this post with friends if you like it!

   Note that I have a separate post called ARCHIVES which contains a list of all the titles I’ve posted since the inception of this blog. The titles are clickable of course. Easier and more informative than just the dates that appear in the right-side Archives column. (I’m slowly learning more things I can make WordPress do. There’s a lot there!)

   Until the full moon in December,
here’s wishing all of us a month of inner calm and humor.

~ Moonlight to all,
Marty

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My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect us directly, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that the astrologers I feature express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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A NOTE ON WRITING STYLE

    A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

    When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

    Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

    Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

    So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

    Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

    If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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INTENTION FOR THIS EARTH, MOON AND STARS BLOG

   The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER

Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images or compositions (e.g. songs, poetry) appearing on it. Copyrighted works remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is content appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the item in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.

Posted in astronomy, Constellations, Folklore, moon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

October’s Big Chestnut Moon

Happy October Full Moon!

Welcome to Issue 10 of Volume VIII of Earth, Moon and Stars!

IN THIS ISSUE
(click any of these section links)

WHAT’S COOKIN’

FULLNESS
   The moon will become full Sunday, October 16, at 04:23 UT, correspondingly earlier in time zones west of the Prime Meridian, later in time zones to the east. (See my December 2014 issue for some clarification about UT-Universal Time.)

  Because technical fullness will occur this time just a few hours after midnight at the Prime Meridian, Ms. Luna will appear fullest Saturday night to folks west of the Middle East (which will be on the cusp) and west to the International Date Line. Places east of the cusp and east to the Date Line will see maximum fullness on Sunday night, though to the casual observer she will appear to be full Saturday as well. Check Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones.

FOLKLORE
   The second of two Black Moons in a row is coming at the end of the month! See Folklore for the lowdown.

MOON NAMES
   Since June we’ve climbed from strawberry moon to blackberry moon to mulberry moon. This month we’re topping out with the Big Chestnut Moon. Check out Moon Names for the full story and some neat pics.

Moon, Chestnut Tree and an Owl (David Inshaw)

Moon, Chestnut Tree and an Owl (David Inshaw)

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MOON MOTION QUIZ
   Continuing the journey we began in our July issue, here’s the next installment in my attempt to pique your interest in how our nearest sky neighbor shakes, rattles, and rolls. As noted in July when we began this new adventure, since the details of this rather large subject can become complex, we’re approaching it in small, simple steps. Here’s the quiz question for this month:

.Q: Does the Moon have an actual “dark” side?

Click Moonmotion to see the “revealing” answer.

JUST SAYIN’
   In this next installment of my new personal opinion section Just Sayin’, I continue the theme of All of Us with another inspirational peace song and video, this one by a passionate young Australian man.

THE MOON AND CHESTNUT TREE IN ART and POESY
   Edvard Munch and Paul Cézanne painted chestnut trees, as did many other artists. And the moon and the chestnut tree find their way into poetry. Check out the Moon Art and Moon Poetry sections.

SUN-RELATED CELEBRATIONS
   The seasons originally determined the date for Halloween. See Celebrations for details.

ASTROLOGY
   Astrologers Æterna and Molly Hall offer us insight at this full moon in Aries in Astrology. 

HUMOR
  In continuation of our new Humor section, Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) is aggrieved to find that his mom takes exception to the predictions of his horoscope.

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SEASONAL CALENDAR
Moon Dates and Times

October’s full moon        Sunday Oct 16 04:23 UT; 7:23 am IDT; 12:23 pm AWST/PHT;  3:23 pm AEST
.                                            Sunday Oct 16 12:23 am EDT
.                                            Saturday Oct 15 6:23 pm HAST; 9:23 pm PDT

Oct’s 2nd new moon      Sunday Oct 30 17:38 UT; 7:38 am HAST; 10:38 am PDT; 1:38 pm EDT
. Black Moon?*                Sunday Oct 30  7:38 pm IST
.                                            Monday Oct 31 1:38 am AWST/PHT; 4:38 am AEDT
.                                            (*See “Folklore” in September’s post for “New Moon~Black Moon” details.)

Daylight Saving Time Began:
.                                           Sunday Oct 2 [Eastern Australia]
Daylight Saving Time Ends:
.                                           Sunday Oct 30 [United Kingdom, Israel]
.                                           Sunday Nov 6 [USA, Canada, Mexico]
.                                           (Check TimeandDate to see DST changes for the location of your choice]

November’s full moon    Monday Nov 14 13:52 UT; 3:52 am HAST; 5:52 am PST; 8:52 am EST
.                                            Monday Nov 14 3:52 pm IST; 9:52 pm AWST/PHT
.                                            Tuesday Nov 15 12:52 am AEDT

November’s new moon  Tuesday Nov 29 12:18 UT; 2:18 am HAST; 4:18 am PST; 7:18 am EST
.                                            Tuesday Nov 29 2:18 pm IST; 8:18 pm AWST/PHT; 11:18 pm AEDT

.                                        Check out Moon Giant to find Full Moon and New Moon times for your local time zone.

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FOLKLORE

Second of Two “Black Moons”

    In last month’s issue we revealed how and why there was a “black moon” at the end of September for some places on Earth, with another one at the end of October for other places — actually on Halloween in some select time zones. See Folklore in the September issue for all the good info — and whether or not the location where you are qualifies for this one.

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MOON NAMES

Big Chestnut Moon

   As you know, many cultures around the world kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon, appropriate for the season in which it occurred and keyed – naturally enough – to the goings-on in their natural environment . . . the weather, the plants, the animals.

Full moon, gnarled tree and boy   In previous Octobers we’ve featured a number of folk names this full moon has been and is known by. The prevailing name that the Old Farmer’s Almanac and other sources report is Hunter’s Moon – the full moon following the Harvest Moon. We featured this name in 2011 (October’s Hunters Moon), 2012 (October’s Hunter’s Wine Blood Full Moon) and in 2014 (October’s Full Eclipsing Blood | Hunter’s Moon).  Shifting gears, in 2013 we took note of the Kindly Moon, and last year we had a lot of fun with the Halloween Pumpkin Moon.

  At least two tribes indigenous to North America named this full moon Big Chestnut Moon: the Muscogee/Creeks (Southeast, Alabama, Georgia) called it “otowoskv-rakko” and the Seminole (Florida) “otauwooskochee” ~ because this is the time of year the chestnuts ripen and drop from the trees. (refs:  American Indian Moons, Family Search.)

As with other nuts, the chestnut – the seed of the tree – is encapsulated in a husk, in this case a rather spiny one.  

Unripe horse chestnuts

Unripe horse chestnuts on the tree

Ripe chestnuts on ground

Ripe chestnuts on the ground

Like other nuts such as walnuts, and in contrast with fruits such as apples and pomegranates, chestnuts are not harvested while still on the tree: you wait until they have dropped to the ground. Then you roast ’em, peel ’em, and eat ’em — yumm!

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 See the Art and Poetry sections below for more chestnut-inspired creations.

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CELESTIAL MECHANICS ~ MOON MOTION

 The Two Sides of the Moon

    Q: Is there a “dark” side of the Moon?
    A: No, not really, any more than there is a (constantly) dark side of the Earth.

Moon’s Face
.   The common misconception that there is one side of the Moon that is always dark or unlit derives from the actual fact that there is a “near side” and a “far side” of the Moon as observed from Earth. As she circles us, Ms. Luna is also spinning on her own axis at a speed that keeps the same side facing us at all times. This is no accident; over billions of years she has become “tidally locked” to Earth. The same is true for most of the other larger moons in our Solar System.

   The term “dark side of the moon” refers to the side we can’t see from Earth, not because it is always unlit, but because it is unseen and thus unknown and mysterious. We do have pictures of this far side, but no one has landed there yet. If you are curious and would like to know more, I recommend you begin with these articles: What and where is the dark side of the moon?” (howstuffworks), Far side of the Moon” (Wikipedia), and Tidal Locking” (Wikipedia).

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JUST SAYIN’

Continuing the “All of Us” Theme

   I introduced this section in July’s issue to offer a more unifying perspective on the troubles and pain we humans continue to inflict on each other. Many poets have expressed how calming the moon can be, due ~ among other things ~ to her perspective from above, her constant blessing of us while we deal with chaos below, and also to her silence. (See Just Sayin’ in July’s issue for my expansion on this point of view.)

   This perspective sees all of us as equal passengers on this bright blue marble. My July, August, and September posts offered songs in a variety of styles I’d found expressing this idea. I think this theme of inclusivity is so crucial to saving us from ourselves, I’ve continued it this month with another song from the younger generation, Get Along by Australian singer/songwriter Guy Sebastian. Click the photo to open the YouTube page where you can listen to him singing it over a very powerful and moving video.

Guy Sebastian “Get Along”

   Excerpt from the chorus:

Dear God, dear soul
Dear Mary, Muhammad
Dear heart, dear life
Dear soldier, dear martyr
Can we all just get along?

   Click this AZLyrics link for the full lyrics. And when you click “SHOW MORE” underneath the YouTube video you will see evidence of this talented and heart-centered young man’s commanding presence on the Web, including a Facebook page, his own website, a Wikipedia article, and more.

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THE MOON IN ART

Munch’s “Chestnut Tree”

   While Vincent van Gogh did paint chestnut trees, I’ve featured his works here so often I thought it would be good to branch out (oooh, sorry – I didn’t see that pun coming) and include some other artists’ trees. Here is an oil painting of a chestnut tree by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944):

  Regarded as a pioneer in the Expressionist movement, you may recognize him as creator of “The Scream”:

The Scream by Edvard Munch

‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch

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 You can find more about this artist on Poul Webb’s blogspot and on Wikipedia.

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   Not to be left out of the running, Paul Cézanne did right by the chestnut tree around 1885:

Chestnut Trees and Farm at Jas de Bouffan (Paul Cézanne 1885c)

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THE MOON and CHESTNUT TREE IN POESY

Moon Haiku

Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 1694) is recognized today as the greatest master of Haiku.
Here is an offering that’s appropriate to our theme:

secretly at night
a worm under the moon
bores into a chestnut

Bashō’s Haiku translated from Japanese into English by Jane Reichhold.
And see Britannica’s biography of Matsuo Bashō.

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“The Village Blacksmith” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

   Although it doesn’t have the moon in it, I couldn’t very well have an issue featuring the chestnut tree without including this famous poem:

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

   There are seven more stanzas. You can read the entire poem at this page of the Maine Historical Society.

   One of the joys I derive from putting this blog together is discovering history I doubt I would ever have otherwise. Perhaps you knew – tho I didn’t – that the blacksmith and chestnut tree in the poem lived just down the street from where Longfellow was living in Cambridge (MA) when he wrote it in 1840. More poignantly, when the tree was cut down in 1876 due to safety concerns, children of Cambridge raised money to have a chair constructed from its wood and presented it to Longfellow on his 72nd birthday.

Longfellow's Chestnut Tree Chair

Longfellow’s Chestnut Tree Chair

This chair can be seen at the Longfellow House National Historic Site.
(ref: Cambridge Historical Society)

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SUN-RELATED CELEBRATIONS

Halloween

   We had a lot of fun in last October’s Great Pumpkin Full Moon issue, and in the Moon Names section there we revealed how the date for celebrating Halloween was originally determined by seasons, using astronomical observations of the sun. Click on those links to find out more.

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ASTROLOGY

Moon Travels Through the Zodiac

  Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the zodiac – the moon takes just a month to complete an entire round. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign.

Moon in Signs and Void of Course

   Technical astrologers call the times while Ms. Luna is in transition from one sign to the next “void of course”. This is considered to be a sort of neither-here-nor-there state, which many people feel as being unsettled or ungrounded. Each astrologer chooses their own method for calculating times of beginning and ending VoC. You can find interesting VoC info and tables at Dr. Standley and at Moontracks.

   Referencing the Moontracks table, we find that Ms. Luna will enter the sign of Aries on Friday (14th) at 15:08, and will remain there until she becomes full on Sunday (16th) at 04:23, when she will become VoC. She will then enter the next sign, Taurus, later that same day at 15:04. (Times here are UT~Universal Time.)

Aries (©Anna Shaw)

Æterna ~  

Aries Full Moon
“It’s a Fire”

   Æterna is a professional astrologer based in Italy, who also runs her own website Aeternalight Astrology “The Cosmic Path to a Conscious Life”, where she claims introspection and compassionate understanding as two of the major assets she brings to her astrology practice.

   For this full moon in Aries, Æterna notes:

[This full moon] showcases a…twine of poignant, emotional sensitivity and impassioned ardor. 

   Rather than excerpting more here, I refer you to Æterna’s post for this Full Moon in Aries – It’s a Fire. Because Æterna’s style is both sensitive and pithy, you will want to set aside some quiet time to reflect on and let what she writes soak in. 

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Molly Hall ~  

Full Moon Time

   Molly Hall is resident astrologer at about.com, where she provides both technical and practical insights derived from traditional interpretations of the positions of the stars and planets.

   Although she has not posted about the specific signs the full moon has recently passed through, she did write this month about The Full Moon in general, what energy it carries, and how you can prepare for it.

   In addition to her insights around full moons, Molly offers the following helpful articles:

   Also visit Molly’s front page for lots more interesting astrology.

Aries Full Moon

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HUMOR

Calvin and Hobbes: Mom Against the Universe

   In this fourth installment of the Calvin and Hobbes series we began in July, Calvin’s mom does not share his faith in the prognosticating abilities of the planets . . .

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FROM ME TO YOU

    Thank you, dear reader, for visiting EM&S this “moonth”. I hope you liked it.

   If you especially liked (or disliked) something you saw here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. And please don’t be shy about sharing this post with friends if you like it!

   Note that I have a separate post called ARCHIVES which contains a list of all the titles I’ve posted since the inception of this blog. The titles are clickable of course. Easier and more informative than just the dates that appear in the right-side Archives column. (I’m slowly learning more things I can make WordPress do. There’s a lot there!)

   Until the full moon in November,
here’s wishing all of us a month with
emotional release, passion, and humor.

~ Moonlight to all,
Marty

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My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect us directly, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that the astrologers I feature express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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A NOTE ON WRITING STYLE

    A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

    When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

    Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

    Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

    So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

    Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

    If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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INTENTION FOR THIS EARTH, MOON AND STARS BLOG

   The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER

Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images or compositions (e.g. songs, poetry) appearing on it. Copyrighted works remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is content appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the item in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.

Posted in astronomy, Constellations, Folklore, moon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

September’s Mulberry Harvest Moon

Happy September Moon

Welcome to Issue 9 of Volume VIII of Earth, Moon and Stars!

IN THIS ISSUE
(click any of these section links)

WHAT’S COOKIN’

FULLNESS
   The moon will become full Friday, September 16, at 19:05 UT, correspondingly earlier in time zones west of the Prime Meridian, later in time zones to the east. (See my December 2014 issue for some clarification about UT-Universal Time.)

  Because technical fullness will occur this time in the early evening at the Prime Meridian, Ms. Luna will appear fullest Friday night just about everywhere. Folks just east of the International Date Line (e.g. Midway Island, Hawaii, Bora Bora) will see about an equally full moon both Thursday and Friday nightsCheck Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones.

BLAH NON-ECLIPSE and INTERESTING 2017 ECLIPSES
   While some astrologers are ascribing great significance to it, the actual upcoming penumbral eclipse you may have heard/read about will not be worth doing anything about. We devote a few column-inches to it and what “penumbral” means. Then we explore much more interesting eclipses coming in 2017 in Skywatch.

FOLKLORE
   Squinting just right, we make out not one, but two Black Moons in a row! See Folklore for the skinny.

MOON NAMES
   Continuing the “berry” theme from last month, this time it’s the Mulberry Moon. But we can’t ignore that it’s also Harvest Moon time again.

   Check out Moon Names for the full story and some neat pics.
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MOON MOTION QUIZ
   Continuing the journey we began in our July issue, here’s the next installment in my attempt to pique your interest in how our nearest sky neighbor shakes, rattles, and rolls. As noted in July when we began this new adventure, since the details of this rather large subject can become complex, we’re approaching it in small, simple steps. Here’s the quiz question for this month:

.Q: Does the Moon’s orbit circle the Earth’s equator?

Click Moonmotion to see the somewhat unusual (by comparison) answer.

JUST SAYIN’
   In this next installment of my new personal opinion section Just Sayin’, I continue the theme of All of Us with another inspirational song, this one by Alicia Keys.

THE MOON IN ART and SONG
   Van Gogh painted his famous “Mulberry Tree” during the last year of his life. Check it out in our Moon Art section.
.   I actually found three songs about the Mulberry Moon. Although I doubt any of them will ever top any charts, still one of them may appeal to you. Also fun “Monkberry Moon Delight” by Paul and Linda McCartney. Click Mulberry Moon songs to jump to this section.

MOON-RELATED CELEBRATIONS
   The full moon determines the date of the Mid-Autumn Festival in China and many other Asian countries.

ASTROLOGY
   New (to this blog) astrologers Æterna and Donna Greco offer us some deep emotional insights at this full moon in Pisces in Astrology. 

HUMOR
  In continuation of our new Humor section, Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) beseeches the moon to fulfill his agenda.

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SEASONAL CALENDAR
Moon Dates and Times

Sept’s 1st new moon*      Thursday Sept 1 09:03 UT; 5:03 am EDT; 2:03 am PDT
.                                             Thursday Sept 1 12:03 pm IDT; 5:03 pm AWST/PHT;  7:03 pm AEST
.                                             Wednesday August 31 11:03 pm HAST
.                                             (*Depends on time zone. See “Folklore” next section for “Black Moon” details.)

September’s full moon    Friday Sept 16 19:05 UT; 9:05 am HAST; 12:05 pm PDT; 3:05 pm EDT; 10:05 pm IDT
.                                             Saturday Sept 17 3:05 am AWST/PHT; 5:05 am AEST

September Equinox         Thursday Sept 22 14:21 UT; 10:21 am EDT

Oct’s 1st new moon*       Saturday Oct 1 00:12 UT; 3:12 am IDT; 8:12 am AWST/PHT;  10:12 am AEST
Sept’s 2nd new moon*   Friday Sept 30 2:12 pm HAST; 5:12 pm PDT; 8:12 pm EDT
.   Black Moon?*              (*Depends on time zone. See “Folklore” next section for “Black Moon” details.)

October’s full moon       Sunday Oct 16 04:23 UT; 7:23 am IDT; 12:23 pm AWST/PHT;  3:23 pm ADST
.                                           Sunday Oct 16 12:23 am EDT
.                                           Saturday Oct 15 6:23 pm HAST; 9:23 pm PDT

Oct’s 2nd new moon     Sunday Oct 30 17:38 UT; 7:38 am HAST; 10:38 am PDT; 1:38 pm EDT
. Black Moon?*              Sunday Oct 30  7:38 pm IST
.                                         Monday Oct 31 1:38 am AWST/PHT; 4:38 am AEDT
.                                         (*See “Folklore” next section for “New Moon~Black Moon” details.)

.                                        Check out Moon Giant to see Full Moon and New Moon times for your local time zone.

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SKYWATCH

The Blah Eclipse You Won’t Be Able to See

    Okay – yes, this full moon will be eclipsed. No, it won’t be a total eclipse or even a partial one; it will be another “penumbral” eclipse, which means even if you were in the part of the world where the moon will be above the horizon when it happens, you probably wouldn’t be able to notice it happening.

   Where visible: Europe, parts of Asia, Australia, and eastern Africa. So to the Western Hemisphere, the moon won’t even be above the horizon during the eclipse. For a map, visibility search by city, and an enlightening animation, see TimeandDate’s page.

PENUMBRA
.   What’s “penumbral”? The umbra of a shadow is the dark part where all of the light from the light source (in this case, the Sun) is blocked. When the light source is spread out (that is, not a point source) like the Sun’s large round disk, if the occluding body (in this case, the Earth) is not in a direct line or large enough to block it, then it covers only part of the source and some (or much) of the light ends up getting past.

   The penumbra (from the Latin paene meaning “almost, nearly”) then, is the part of the shadow where only some of the source light is blocked. With much of the sun’s light still hitting and reflected by the Moon, you would not be able to discern anything happening unless you were staring for a long time and paying close attention. (ref: Wikipedia “Umbra” and “Total Penumbral Eclipse“)

Penumbra diagram Dirac Delta Consultants Ltd)

    The penumbra is the transition region between the darkest shadow and full brightness. Only part of the light from the source reaches this region. (ref: Dirac Delta Consultants Ltd.)

INTERESTING ECLIPSES COMING IN 2017

   2017 has some more interesting eclipse events in store. Here is a list of lunar and solar eclipses coming next year. (Clicking any of the headings will open TimeandDate’s page for that eclipse.)

Feb 10 / Feb 11 Lunar, Penumbral
Europe, much of Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic, Antarctica

Feb 26 Solar, Annular
South/West Africa, much of South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica

Aug 7 / Aug 8 Lunar, Partial
Much of Europe, much of Asia, Australia, Africa, East in South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica

Aug 21 Solar, Total
West in Europe, North/East Asia, North/West Africa, North America, North/West South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic

   I call your attention to the red highlighted text above ==> a total solar eclipse cutting a swath across the midsection of the United States!  People in this part of the world won’t have another chance coming even close to this until 2024. So click the link above, consult the map, and start making plans!
.                         (ref: TimeandDate “Solar and Lunar Eclipses Worldwide – Next 10 years“)

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FOLKLORE

Two “Black Moons”?

    Well, yes/no/depends. (Doncha just love waffle answers like that?!)

Fanciful Black Moon (Free-Spirited Mind)

Fanciful Black Moon (Free-Spirited Mind)

    As if keeping track of blue moons wasn’t enough, now black moons, too? Briefly, one of the more recent folkloric (chiefly Wiccan) traditions extrapolates from the current definition of a blue moon and defines a black moon as the second occurrence of a new moon in a calendar month

   Using this definition and consulting the Seasonal Calendar, above, you can see that if you are situated somewhere just west of Greenwich and east of Hawaii, you had a new moon on Sept 1 and will have another one on Sept 30. This second new moon will be a “black” moon by the above definition.

  But wait! There’s more! Folks who are anywhere Greenwich east to the International Date Line will have two new moons in October, so the new moon on October 30/31 will also be a black moon — and will fall on Halloween (for folks who observe it) from Bangkok’s time zone east to the Date Line.

   Wow! Two black moons back-to-back, and one of them on Halloween! That’s gotta be worth howling about! For background and more details on blue and black moons, check out our March 2014 issue.

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MOON NAMES

Mulberry (and) Harvest

    Many cultures in both hemispheres kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon, appropriate for the month in which it occurred and keyed –naturally enough – to the goings-on in their natural environment . . . the weather, the plants, the animals.

   In previous Septembers we’ve covered a number of folk names this full moon is known by. While the various resources for moon names don’t always agree, I found two that list Mulberry as the Choctaw name for September’s moon. Good enough for me. (refs: Keith’s Moon Names and Everything Under the Moon.) See the Art and Song sections below for more things Mulberry.

   Of course it’s also the Harvest Moon. I couldn’t find any good pictures of a Mulberry Moon, so here’s another neat-o Harvest Moon creation:

September's Full Harvest Moon (Science Projects For Kids)

September’s Full Harvest Moon (Science Projects For Kids)

   For lots more good Harvest Moon facts ‘n pics, see my Sept 2013 and Sept 2015 back issues.

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CELESTIAL MECHANICS ~ MOON MOTION

 Equatorial Orbits

    Q: Does the Moon’s orbit circle the Earth’s equator?
    A: No. But it’s logical to think that it might.

Moon’s Orbit
.   The Moon circles the Earth in an elliptical orbit whose plane is much closer to the ecliptic (5° or so) than to Earth’s equatorial plane. This gives rise to the relatively frequent eclipses that we observe.

Moon's orbital tilt (NASA)

Moon’s orbital tilt (NASA)

   If the Moon’s orbit was not inclined at all to the ecliptic, we would be seeing eclipses every month. If, instead, the Moon circled the Earth’s equator, eclipses would be as rare as hen’s teeth. (Note that the word “ecliptic” came about because astronomers long ago noted that eclipses occurred only when the Moon crossed it.)

  Your intuition that the Moon circles the Earth’s equator would not be without reason: all fourteen of the other large “regular” moons in our Solar System circle their parent planet’s equator. Why do they and our Moon does not? It all has to do with how moons come to be in the first place.

ORIGIN OF SOLAR SYSTEM PLANETS and MOONS
.   First of all, let’s note that nobody knows the answers for sure ~ no one was around with a video camera when our Solar System formed some 4.6 billion years ago. All we have to go on are observations made from Earth-based telescopes, space telescopes in Earth orbit, spacecraft probe flybys, the geological record, and a few rock samples from the Moon and meteorites.

   The generally accepted theory is that the planets of our Solar System coalesced from a giant flat disk of dense gas and dust that was swirling around the newly formed Sun.

Protoplanetary disc

Protoplanetary disc

   The plane of this disk remains today the plane of the ecliptic: the plane that contains the orbits of most of the major bodies of the Solar System.

FORMATION OF MOONS
.   Moons around planets can come into being in a variety of ways. It is thought that the major moons in our Solar System coalesced from dust clouds swirling around their parent planet. This would explain their equatorial orbits.

4 Largest Jovian moons

The Four Largest Moons of Jupiter (Phys.org)

   Why, then, is Ms. Luna the exception? Theories abound. A lot of people like the “giant-impact” hypothesis that suggests a Mars-sized body hit Earth with a glancing blow, creating a large debris ring around Earth, which then accreted to form the Moon. But there is evidence that contradicts this theory.

Formation of the Moon (Buzzle)

Impact Theory of Formation of the Moon (Buzzle)

   That’s more than enough for now. If you find yourself fascinated by any of this, there is more reading about it that will keep you entranced for hours, if not days or weeks. Here are some Wikipedia articles you can begin with:
Orbit of the Moon    Origin of the Moon    Formation of the Solar System

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JUST SAYIN’

Continuing the “All of Us” Theme

   I introduced this section in July’s issue to offer a unifying perspective on the troubles and pain we humans continue to inflict on each other. Many poets have expressed how calming the moon can be, due ~ among other things ~ to her perspective from above, and also to her silence. (See Just Sayin’ in July’s issue for my expansion on this point of view.)

   This perspective sees all of us as equal passengers on this bright blue marble. My July and August posts offered songs expressing this idea. This month I’ve continued this theme of inclusivity with Alicia Keys’ song “We Are Here (for all of us)”Click the photo to open the YouTube page where you can watch and listen to her singing it.

Alicia Keys “We Are Here”

   Excerpt from the chorus:

We are here for all of us
It’s why we are here

   A simple search reveals this talented and heart-centered young woman’s commanding presence on the Web, including a Facebook page, her own website, a Wikipedia article, and more.

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THE MOON IN ART

Van Gogh’s “The Mulberry Tree”

   I couldn’t very well do a mulberry-themed post without including Vincent van Gogh’s famous contribution. In doing this research I learned that he created his “Mulberry Tree” painting while residing in the Saint Paul Asylum in Saint-Remy, about a year before he would die. A tortured soul, painting his interpretation of what he saw around him was the grounding constant in his life. He told his brother that of all the works he did during this time, this painting was his favorite. It is among the most imitated of his works – by adults and children alike. For more details check out Van Gogh Gallery.

The Mulberry Tree (Vincent van Gogh)

The Mulberry Tree (Vincent van Gogh) (source: Wikipedia)

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THE MOON IN SONG

“Mulberry Moon” x3, plus “Monkberry” by McCartneys

   Surprisingly, I found three Mulberry Moon songs, each unique. Although none is outstanding, I list them here in case any of these styles appeals to you. Also a surprise by Paul and Linda McCartney.

   Mulberry Moon by The Shady Grove Band (1990) ~ two minutes of good (instrumental) downhome bluegrass.

   Mulberry Moon ~ a mournful(?) ballad by Andy Cook and the Wanderloons, a teen garage band. You will be on the edge of your seat wondering when the patient girl in the spotlight is going to play those twenty notes on her xylophone.

   Mulberry Moon ~ a laid-back jazz piece from Grayhawk Perkins Mezcal Jazz Unit’s Thirteen Moons album.

   Monkberry Moon Delight by Paul McCartney. In doing the research I came across this piece that Paul composed and published when he was in between The Beatles and Wings. While not exactly mulberry, still “monkberry” is close enough (and silly enough) that I thought you might enjoy watching and listening to Paul and Linda on the only album they made together.

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MOON-RELATED CELEBRATIONS

Asian Mid-Autumn Festival

   Celebration of the Mid-Autumn festival has a long history. Ancient emperors traditionally worshiped the sun in spring and the moon in autumn, and celebrations continue to this day.  Along with the Spring Festival, the annual Mid-Autumn Festival ~ also called the Chinese Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival ~ is one of the most important annual festivals for Chinese and Vietnamese people and is an official holiday in many Asian countries. Perhaps most importantly, it is a day for family reunion.

Ancient Chinese Moon Worship

Ancient Chinese Moon Worship (China Travel)

   As we have noted in previous issues, the Chinese calendar is lunisolar; each month begins at the dark (new) moon, with an extra month added when needed to stay in sync with the seasons. The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month, thus occurring at the full moon. Even though the official national holiday will occur on September 15 this year (according to the Western Gregorian calendar), celebrations are already underway. Check your local news feeds for celebrations in your area.  (refs: China Travel (history and legends), Little Day Out (Singapore), Wikipedia)

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ASTROLOGY

Moon Travels Through the Zodiac

  Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the zodiac – the moon takes just a month to complete an entire round. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign.

Moon in Signs and Void of Course

   Technical astrologers call the times while Ms. Luna is in transition from one sign to the next “void of course”. This is considered to be a sort of neither-here-nor-there state, which many people feel as being unsettled or ungrounded. You can find interesting VoC info and tables at Moontracks.

   Referencing the above tables, we find that Ms. Luna will enter the sign of Pisces on Thursday (15th) at 02:23, and will become VoC as she leaves Pisces on Friday (16th) at 19:05, the exact same moment that she becomes full. This is purely coincidental, but some astrologers may see some significance in it. She will enter the next sign, Aries, on Saturday (17th) at 04:22. (All above times are UT~Universal Time.)

Full Moon in Pisces

Æterna ~  

Pisces Full Moon
“The Fragile”

   Æterna is a professional astrologer based in Italy, who also runs her own website Aeternalight Astrology “The Cosmic Path to a Conscious Life”, where she claims introspection and compassionate understanding as two of the major assets she brings to her astrology practice.

   For this full moon in Pisces, Æterna notes:

While there is nothing horrific per se about the upcoming Full Moon / Lunar Eclipse… it’s true that it will involve a confrontation with the unknown to some extent – the transcendental, fluid unknown of the Piscean realm.

   Because Æterna’s style is both sensitive and pithy, you will want to set aside some quiet time to reflect on and let what she writes soak in. For example, later on in her article she tells us this full moon is a chance for:

An encounter with our own vulnerability, amidst tidal waves of emotions that beg to be cleared, released.

   Worth it, IMHO, to give yourself the gift of taking in what Æterna offers in her installment for this full moon at Full Moon in Pisces – The Fragile.

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Donna Greco  

Pisces Full Moon Eclipse
“Emotional Illumination”

Recommended by a reader-friend, Donna Greco is a professional astrologer located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who runs her own website Cosmic Consultations. She also teaches piano and has a separate website devoted to this: Donna’s Piano Studio.

   For this full moon in Pisces, Donna has published a piece she called Emotional Illumination. In it she writes:

Pisces the Fish is beckoning us to dive deeply within our emotional life. What appears as pain, complexity and turbulence is serving to awaken us. This is a moon of deep and intricate emotional healing.

Feelings abound. In order to heal, we must feel. While intense emotion can seem overwhelming, it is paramount to find the time and space in which to feel and express our emotions, for this Moon is clearing out ancient emotional imagery which has only served to block us on our path to happiness and fulfillment.

   If this idea calls to you, I recommend visiting Donna’s installment for this full moon at Pisces Full Moon Eclipse “Emotional Illumination” for the full experience of the rest of the story.

Pisces Full Moon

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HUMOR

Calvin and Hobbes: The Moon Says So

   Continuing the Calvin and Hobbes series we began in July, Calvin is sure the moon will prevail. Hobbes . . . not so much. Here is the third in this series of six . . .

Calvin Implores the Moon

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FROM ME TO YOU

    Thank you, dear reader, for visiting EM&S this “moonth”. I hope you liked it.

   If you especially liked (or disliked) something you saw here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. And don’t be shy about sharing this post with friends if you like it!

   Note that I now have a separate page called ARCHIVES which contains a list of all the titles I’ve posted since the inception of this blog. The titles are clickable, of course. Easier and more informative than just the dates that appear in the right-side Archives column. (I’m slowly learning things I can make WordPress do. There’s a lot there!)

   Until the full moon in October, here’s wishing all of us a month of compassion and surrender.
~ Moonlight to all, Marty

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My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect our individual directly, but I like the wisdom, insight, warmth and humanness that the astrologers I feature express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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A NOTE ON WRITING STYLE

    A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

    When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

    Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

    Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

    So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

    Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

    If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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INTENTION FOR THIS EARTH, MOON AND STARS BLOG

   The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER

Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images or compositions (e.g. songs, poetry) appearing on it. Copyrighted works remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is content appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the item in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.

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