October’s Great Pumpkin Full Moon

Happy Spooky Halloween Full Moon!

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

(click any of these section links)

   Please feel free to leave a comment (down at the bottom) if you like or dislike anything. I’ll keep your comment private if you ask me to.


   The moon will become exact full Tuesday October 27 at 12:05 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 fullness at the Prime Meridian will occur this time around noon Tuesday, Ms. Luna will appear fullest on Tuesday night to everyone from the East Coast of North America east to the International Date Line. Folks in the rest of North America will see about equal fullness both Monday and Tuesday nights. Further west to the Date Line, Monday night will be the best bet, although to the casual observer, both nights will appear about equally full. Check Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones.

   While the moon will already be waning by the time we reach Halloween this coming Saturday, I just couldn’t wait five more years for Halloween 2020, the first time since 1974 that the moon will be full on Halloween. So I’m taking liberty and naming this one myself as Pumpkin Moon (not to be confused with any video game, or toy store in Oak Park, IL.)
And we take a brief look at the astronomy behind the date when we celebrate Halloween. See Moon Names for the lowdown.

 Oooh, I feel better already. . .smiling pumpkin
  In Celestial Mechanics we take a look at why the full moon looks like a giant pumpkin rising over the pumpkin patch.

  In the music and poetry section, we serve up an anonymous Halloween Moon poem, “The Moon Laughs“,  along with a fun James Bond-sounding song, “The Pumpkin Moon Song“. (See the little contest I’ve rigged up along with the lyrics to this song.)

  And finally, our favorite astrologers, Molly and Emily, give us suggestions about how to reap the most from this full moon. See the Astrology section for their good stuff.

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Moon Dates and Times

October’s full moon:        Tuesday October 27 12:05 UTC; 2:05 pm IST; 8:05 pm AWST/PHT
.                                            Tuesday October 27 2:05 am HAST; 5:05 am PDT; 8:05 am EDT
Daylight time ends (North America):  Sunday November 1
November’s new moon:  Wednesday November 11 17:48 UTC; 7:48 pm IST
.                                                         Wednesday November 11 7:48 am HAST; 10:48 am PST; 1:48 pm EST
.                                                         Thursday November 12 1:48 am AWST/PHT

November’s full moon:   Wednesday November 25 22:44 UTC; 12:44 pm HAST; 2:44 pm PST; 5:44 pm EST
.                                            Thursday November 26 12:44 am IST; 6:44 am AWST/PHT
[ref: Moon Phases]

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Pumpkin Moon and Halloween

   So — I took personal liberty and decided to name this moon Pumpkin Moon – admittedly not original by any stretch. But what’s interesting to me is the astronomical underpinning of Halloween – or at least when we celebrate it.

   Most (though not all) scholars trace our modern celebration of Halloween to All Hallows Day, in turn deriving from the ancient Celtic festival Samhain (sah-win), marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Samhain is traditionally celebrated from sunset on October 31 to sunset on November 1, which is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.  So astronomy – or more precisely, astronomical observation of the sun – was used to determine the date of Halloween! (refs Halloween, Samhain)

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The Great Orange Pumpkin – Moon Illusion

   “On Halloween night the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch and flies through the air, bringing toys to all the children of the world.” So says Linus in the perennial children’s TV movie It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Charles Schulz, aired every Halloween season since 1966 — this year on Oct 29.

The Great Pumpkin (Charles Schulz)

   You yourself may have been witness to a large orange moon rising on a full moon night, looking for all the world like a giant pumpkin.

 Well, maybe it looked more like this…

“Road To Nowhere – Supermoon” (Aaron J. Groen)

   This raises two questions: why does it appear so large at moonrise, and why does it look orange?

  The orange explanation is fairly simple, and similar to the explanation we provided last month as to what gives the moon a “blood” color during a total eclipse:  The light coming to us from a just-risen moon has to travel through a lot more air than when it is directly overhead. The molecules in our atmosphere tend to scatter out short wavelengths of light (the blue end of the visible spectrum) – which incidentally is why we see a blue sky during the day.

   So what remains to hit our eyes are colors at the long – or red – end of the spectrum. Add in varying amounts of dust and haze, and you get a color that can vary from yellow to light orange to burnt sienna (my favorite crayon color name when I was a kid). (refs: Diffuse sky radiationRayleigh scatteringBlue Sky)

Orange moon & haunted house

    When they see the full moon just rising above the horizon, most people report that it appears much larger than usual. The key word here is “appears”; it turns out this is actually an optical illusion that can be easily proven using a camera or even by holding out your arm and using a fingernail to compare size relative to when the moon is high in the sky. (Often referred to as the “Moon Illusion”, this effect can also be noticed when the sun and star constellations are near the horizon.)

   Even though this effect has been known since ancient times and recorded by various cultures, its explanation is still debated. One of the most common explanations is the “relative size” hypothesis, which focuses (unintended pun) on our brain’s comparing the moon’s apparent size with objects near it on the horizon.

   However, this is only one of many dozens of theories. If you Google “moon illusion” you will see many other attempts at explaining it. Even so, no theory has yet been deemed conclusive. Wikipedia’s article covers a lot of ground, but it’s not exhaustive. There are also many books that have been written on the subject, including The Moon Illusion (edited by Maurice Hershenson) and The Mystery of the Moon Illusion (by Helen Ross and Cornelis Plug).

   Maybe it IS the Great Pumpkin after all!

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The Moon Laughs

The Moon Laughs

(found at Scrapbook Graphics)

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The Pumpkin Moon Song

 I guess I’m getting soft. Or daft. Or both? But as much as pumpkins have taken over since the last full moon (pumpkin beer?? pumpkin coffee?!?), I still like the tradition. And of course, the moon has something to say at this season, too. So here’s a song I found: “Pumpkin Moon” from the 2005 British animated TV movie of the same name. The song is sung by Nikki Corfield. When you  click on the picture below, it will take you to the YouTube video for the song.

Pumpkin Moon Song (graphic from hdwpics)

  Here are the lyrics, as best I could make out listening to the track. I couldn’t find them anywhere on the Web. Nikki has a great voice, but my ears, her British accent, and the accompanying music all conspired to make a few words totally mysterious to me (see the ?? below). Take a listen to the song and leave a comment below if you think you know what the ?? words are — and if I messed up any others!

   Update: In December 2015 friend Angela sent me her take on some of the words I couldn’t make out. Then in June 2016 reader Gemma Wilson left a comment with more corrections. I’ve put these in  – though there is still one line I’m not sure of (see “??”). If you have a few minutes to spare and are desperate for entertainment, give it a listen yourself and let me know what you hear.

Pumpkin Moon
sung by Nikki Corfield

Stop where you are
Put down your broomsticks
I’m fed up with you witches
and the bad things you do!

For too many years
You’ve bullied and fought us
Now I’m gonna work a little magic on you.

Witches are bad, but pumpkins are glad
To be calling the tune
Nothing will stop us
Flying to Pumpkin Moon

As the moon begins to rise
The bells will ring as your power dies
The old witch’s brew of smoke is in the air (??)

A long time ago, on Halloween night
The pumpkins and witches got into a fight
You put a spell on me — the wrong thing to do;
Now I’m gonna work a little magic on you.

The circle of life
Will banish your strife
Now we’re calling the tune
No one will stop us
Getting to Pumpkin Moon

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   Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the Zodiac – the Moon takes just a month to make her rounds. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign. The Moon is currently in Aries; she will move into Taurus on Tuesday, just six hours before fullness. She will remain there while full, moving on into Gemini on Thursday.

Emily Trinkaus ~ 

Taurus Full Moon ~ Fruition and Fulfillment 

   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.

Collage by Emily

    The full title of Emily’s post for this full moon is Fruition and Fulfillment – Venus Meets Jupiter Approaching the Taurus Full Moon.  She advises: As the energy builds toward next Tuesday’s Taurus Full Moon, the peak of the lunar cycle.

   Her recommendation is to make yourself available to Venusian opportunities – get out and meet people, take the risk of stretching beyond your comfort zone in relationship-land, be on the lookout for ways to increase the financial flow, make ART. Magnify your powers of attraction through acts of generosity, love and beauty. 

   For a lot more details – including the astrological underpinnings if you’re so inclined – check out her full article Fruition and Fulfillment – Venus Meets Jupiter Approaching the Taurus Full Moon.

Molly Hall ~  

Taurus Full Moon ~ Earthing Possibilities

   Molly Hall is chief astrologer at about.com, where she provides both technical and practical insights derived from the positions of the stars and planets. Here is a brief distillation from her column for this full moon:

  Magnetic Pull: In Taurus, the Moon is considered exalted in traditional astrology. The lunar receptivity becomes calm currents in Taurus, that are sensual and settled in vibes as slow as nature itself. And with peak intuitive powers, the chances for practical magic are high.

  Molly has a lot more, including her more finely targeted Forecast by Houses. If all this has you salivating, surf over to her article Taurus Full Moon ~ Earthing Possibilities for the full treatment.

Taurus Full Moon (Daniel Fiverson)

   In addition to her insights around this full moon, 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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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 Molly and Emily 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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   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 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. 

   Until the full moon in November, here’s wishing all of us a month of generosity, love and beauty!

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    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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   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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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 to 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.


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 astronomy, Constellations, moon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to October’s Great Pumpkin Full Moon

  1. gemma Wilson says:

    Hi just to let you know that those lyrics are not correct these are the correct lyrics I have original pumpkin moon song sheet (Stop where you are put down your broomsticks I’m fed up with you witches and the bad things you do for to many years you’ve bullied and fought us now I’m gonna work a little magic on you witches are bad but pumpkins are glad to be calling the tune nothing can stop us flying to pumpkin moon as the moon begins to rise the bells will ring as your power dies the earth will turn a pumpkin in the air a large no time ago on Halloween night the pumpkins and witches got into a fight you put a spell on me the wrong thing to do now I’m gonna work a little magic on you the circle of life will banish your strife now we’re calling the tune no one could stop us getting to pumpkin moon oh pumpkin moon oh pumpkin moon oh pumpkin moon oh pumpkin moon) hope this helps

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