March’s Full Crow Moon

Happy March Full Moon!

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

  The moon will become “technically full” Sunday at 1:09 pm ET (10:09 am PT). Depending on where you are, this will be more or less midway between moonrise Saturday and moonrise Sunday; thus she will appear full both nights….two opportunities to howl!

In this issue:

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MOON NAMES and MOON ART

March’s Full Crow Moon

     As we all know by now, 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.

    As with any month, the March full moon has been called many different names, with most in the northern hemisphere regarding it as the last full moon of winter. (You can see comprehensive name lists here and here.) Algonquin tribes in the north of what is now the United States referred to it variously as the Worm Moon, Sugar Moon, Crust Moon, and Sap Moon. Some also called it the Crow Moon, as the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter. (As far as I know, none of them called it the Groundhog Moon.)

Full Crow Moon

Full Crow Moon (Red Lake Writer)

What do you imagine when you think of crows? Here’s what comes to my mind . . .

Wheatfield with Crows - Van Gogh

“Wheatfield with Crows” – Vincent van Gogh

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SEASONAL CALENDAR

March’s full moon:              Sunday March 16 17:09 UT (1:09 pm ET, 10:09 am PT)
March Equinox                    Thursday March 20 16:57 UT (12:57 pm ET, 9:57 am PT)
March’s 2nd new moon:    Sunday March 30 18:45 UT (2:45 pm ET, 11:45 am PT)
April’s full moon:                Tuesday April 15 07:43 UT (3:43 am ET, 12:43 am PT)

(Note that the full moon in April will be accompanied by a total eclipse, visible throughout the Western Hemisphere. Total lunar eclipses don’t come along very often, so it’s kinda a big deal. Get your binoculars, telescopes and cameras ready; we will feature it in next month’s posting.)   [ref: Moon Phases]

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FOLKLORE

Blue Moons, Dark Moons, and Black Moons

  I put blue moons and black moons under Folklore, because (with one small technical exception) they aren’t purely astronomical events; each is a conjunction of an astronomical event with a man-made calendar – at least as they are currently defined. As I wrote in my August 2013 post, a blue moon was originally considered to be the third full moon in a season that contained four full moons; now it is widely considered to be the second full moon in a calendar month.

  So what is a “black moon“? Just as the term blue moon is associated with full moons, black moon is an invented term that is associated with new moons or dark moons – when the side of the Moon facing us has no sunlight impinging on it at all. Apparently of Wiccan origin, people have made up a variety of definitions for a black moon:

    • The second occurrence of a new moon in a calendar month.
    • The third new moon in a season that has four of them.
    • The absence of a full moon in a calendar month.
    • The absence of a new moon in a calendar month.

   Extrapolating from our blue moon discussion, you can see that only that second definition of a black moon can be considered a true astronomical event, and only if you define seasons, as we explained in the August 2013 issue, referenced above. Going by the first definition, then the next new moon (March 30) will be a black moon. Do people say “once in a black moon”? Probably only if you are a Wiccan. Do you feel like howling? Go for it! (refs: Wikipedia, eHow, TimeandDate)

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SKYWATCH

The March Equinox

  Though it may not feel like it where you are, the approaching equinox (March 20) is, “officially” speaking, the beginning of spring (vernal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere, and the beginning of autumn (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere. Why? Because, as you know, on this day the length of darkness and sunlight are equal – everywhere on the planet. Following the equinox, in the Northern Hemisphere the amount of daylight each day will exceed dark time until the next equinox in September. If you want to learn more, take a look at Earthsky’s page “Everything you need to know about the vernal equinox of 2014“. Note that on either equinox you can determine exact east wherever you are if you can see the horizon at sunrise: just spot where the sun touches the horizon. The same holds true for exact west at sunset.

  Many cultures marked the beginning of their new year on the spring equinox – probably because spring was the beginning of a new agricultural season, and the equinox was quite obvious. (The meddling with calendars is a subject for another time. If you can’t wait, you can read up on some of it here.) And take a look at Universe Today to find out whether it’s true that eggs balance better on their ends on the equinox.

Seasons diagram (NOAA)

Seasons diagram ~ Northern Hemisphere (Universe Today)

   The equinoxes are not only each a moment in time, they are also specific points in space – albeit imaginary ones: they are the two places where the celestial equator intersects the ecliptic. This begins to make sense when you consider that the equinoxes are the only times when the sun is directly above the Earth’s equator. And since the sun by definition is always on the ecliptic, all we have to do is look where the sun is against the backdrop of stars on these dates. On this vernal equinox, the sun is in the constellation Pisces. (Due to the precession of the equinoxes, it is slowly approaching Aquarius – but that’s a story for another time.)

Vernal Equinox in Space

Vernal Equinox in Space (utk.edu)

  Find the Aquarius end of Pisces on the zodiac diagram below – that is where the sun is in front of right now, and thus the location (in imaginary space) of the vernal equinox. Note that the vernal equinox is used as the “zero longitude” marker on the celestial sphere, analogous to the prime meridian through Greenwich, England, that is used as the zero longitude marker on Earth. 

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STARWATCH

The Astronomy and Lore of the Zodiac

  In our January post we introduced some basics about the zodiac. If you missed it, you will find it helpful to take few minutes to peruse it, as it sets the stage for our theme this year of exploring the “astronomy behind the astrology”. Below is a diagram we’ve been using that you may find helpful in your visualizing.

   Briefly speaking, the astronomical zodiac consists of thirteen constellations that lie along the ecliptic. You may recall from discussion on this blog in previous months that the ecliptic is the annual path that the sun seems to travel across the backdrop of the fixed stars.

Zodiac diagram

Astrological zodiac diagram

  Early astrologers idealized the ecliptic as a circle, divided it into twelve equal segments or “signs”, and gave each sign the name of the constellation it was near on the ecliptic at that time. Today the signs and the constellations, while still having the same (or similar) names, do not correspond with each other in the sky. This is due to a number of unrelated phenomena. (See our January post for details.)

Constellation of the Month: Pisces

Pisces Constellation (Star Splitters)

Pisces Constellation (Star-Splitters)

     Pisces lives in a large V-shaped region in the first quadrant of the Northern Hemisphere – northeast of Aquarius and northwest of Cetus the Sea-monster. Because its dim stars are spread out over such a large area, it is one of the more difficult  constellations to identify. (ref Space.com)

Pisces Constellation in night sky (Wikipedia)

Pisces Constellation in the night sky (Wikipedia)

   Because of the precession we described in January, the sun won’t actually enter Pisces this year until March 12 and will continue to move through it until April 19. Obviously, this makes it impossible to observe at this time of year, as the sun is in the way. The best time to observe this constellation will be early November around 10 p.m. local time or early December around 8 p.m. local time. We will provide more details for observing Pisces when we post about the full moon in November. (ref Earthsky.orgSpace.comField Guide to the Night Sky, National Audubon Society, Wikipedia)

Astrological Sign of the Month: Pisces

   Pisces (Latin for “fishes”) is the twelfth and final sign in the tropical zodiac, occupying the span from 330 to 360 degrees. According to this zodiac, the sun transits Pisces from February 20 to March 20.

Pisces the Fishes ~ Astrological Sign

Pisces the Fishes ~ Astrological Sign (Mystic Maiden)

    Pisces appears in a number of early myths which include Divine associations with Pisces and include Vishnu, Aphrodite, Eros, Typhon, Poseidon and even Christ. It is one of the earliest zodiac signs on record, with the two fish appearing as far back as c. 2300 BCE on an Egyptian coffin lid. One Greek myth told of an egg that fell into the Euphrates river and was then rolled to the shore by fish. Doves sat on the egg until it hatched, out from which came Aphrodite. As a sign of gratitude towards the fish, Aphrodite put the fish into the night sky. Because of these myths – and Venus being the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite – the Pisces constellation was also known as “Venus et Cupido,” “Venus Syria cum Cupidine,” and “Veneris Mater,” the latter being the formal Latin term for mother. (ref Wikipedia)

   The zodiacal symbol for Pisces (above) represents the two fishes.

Zodiac Constellation to View this Month: Cancer the Crab

   The zodiac constellation easiest to see right now is Cancer the Crab. (We’ll highlight this constellation and zodiac sign in our July issue.)

Cancer constellation (Wikipedia)

Cancer constellation (diagram) (EarthSky)

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.  Like any constellation, Cancer is much easier  to make out on a dark, moonless night. However, as it is the dimmest of the zodiac constellations, you will have a better chance of seeing if you can get away from city lights — like out in the countryside, up in the mountains, out in the desert, or at sea. If you were successful in locating Castor and Pollux in Gemini last month, you can locate Cancer lying 2 hours east of Gemini (remember, the whole dome of the sky you can see at any given moment is 12 hours from west horizon to east horizon) and at the same declination. (ref EarthSky.org)

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MOON ART and POETRY

Crow Moon

Crow Moon, Linda Marcille, Crow House Studio

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MOON ART

Crow Moon by Robin Samiljan

Full Crow Moon by Robin Samiljan

     This beautiful watercolor is by Chicago artist Robin Samiljan from her collection
A Year of the Full Moon“. Prints are available for purchase at Fine Art America

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CELEBRATIONS

Holi

   Hindus follow a lunisolar calendar, which  honors each full noon (purnima) with a celebration. On this Spring Full Moon (transliterated as Phalgun Purnima), the festival of Holi – the Spring Festival of Colors – is celebrated.  Though officially beginning on March 17, people in many parts of India aren’t waiting. Similar to other spring rituals, 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.

happy-holi-wallpapers   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. It is a spring holiday that 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. (More can be found at Wikipedia and Huffington Post.)

Purim Street Party

Purim Street Party (telavivme)

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ASTROLOGY

Molly Hall ~ Virgo-Pisces Full Moon: Practical Magic

   This month Molly Hall writes about the Full Moon in Virgo on Sunday on her about.com astrology site: Practical Magic. Here is a synoptic condensation:

     Full Moons bring rising inner tides — the material of the psyche is surfacing. This Full Moon brings home the reality that it’s useful (and a lifesaver) to have a basket of strategies that work in different situations.

   This is a time to experiment, listening to the soul’s promptings, on what will aid in the integration process. What gives you confidence, to ride the waves, and even if you’re knocked down, find your center again? Sometimes what’s needed is to Do Nothing — to simply let the waters wash over and trust the process.

Let the waters wash over you

Doing nothing

   For the complete read, see the above-referenced/linked article. Also visit Molly’s front page for more astrology.)

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Emily Trinkaus ~ Virgo Magic: Liberation of the Goddess

  Head priestess at virgo magic, Emily is based in Portland, OR, and works with astrology as a tool for healing, empowerment, personal growth and collective evolution. In addition, she and energy healer Katie Todd run the Full Moon Priestess website where they conduct monthly Full Moon Galactivation teleclasses for women. Here is an excerpt from Emily’s column for this full moon ~ Liberation of the Goddess:

   It’s time for the Goddess in each of us to come out, be seen and take the lead. Perfectionism, Virgo’s shadow, is one of the ways we can sabotage and block the creative power of our own inner Goddess. Believing we’re not good enough, knowledgeable or skillful enough, thinking we need to take one more workshop, get another degree or certification. Postponing our sacred work and staying stuck in our smallness. Where are you telling yourself you’re not ready? Where are you holding back your gifts? Where are you playing small, afraid to step into your divinity?

Full Moon in Virgo

Full Moon in Virgo (cosmicpsychic)

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   If you especially like (or dislike) something you see 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 leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected.

   Until the full moon in April, here’s wishing you and yours a month of joy, confidence, and waking up from hibernation!

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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 appearing on it. Copyrighted images remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the image in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.

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About aquarianman

Aquarian interested in anything to do with the Earth, our Moon, and anything flying around out there in space.
This entry was posted in Astrology, astronomy, Constellations, moon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to March’s Full Crow Moon

  1. Carol Baras says:

    Hi Marty,
    As usual, superb!
    Thank you for all your time and effort.
    And, thank you for sharing your amazing expertise!
    Hugs
    Carol B

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