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Enjoy the Fall Harvest Moon and Equinox

Songwriters have crooned about it. Farmers have counted on it. The Chinese Mid-Autumn, or Moon, Festival honors it with special mooncakes. It’s the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, which traditionally shines its all-night beacon to help farmers gather their crops. In addition to being timed well for the job, this Autumn full moon travels particularly close to the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere, so that it appears larger and closer than do other full moons throughout the year. It’s also visible for a longer amount of time than other moons — often all night — so that, especially before electricity, the harvesting needn’t stop at nightfall. And, if that weren’t enough, it also brightens the night sky for many successive days in a row.

For most of a week, those in northern latitudes are able to go outside on clear nights and witness the Harvest Moon. It’s due to be its fullest on the night of September 18 or September 19, depending on your location on the globe. In North America, the crest of the moon’s full phase comes before sunrise September 19. at 11:13 UTC. That’s 4:13 a.m. U.S. Pacific Daylight Time  on September 19, 2013.  Translate UTC to your time zone.

Asians will witness the full moon after sunset September 19, the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

This year’s Autumnal Equinox falls on September 22, at 20:44 UTC . That’s 1:44 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. “Equinox” means “equal night” in Latin and, twice a year (in March and September), the sun shines directly on the equator, and the length of day and night are nearly equal in all parts of the world.

The Farmers Almanac calls the Fall full moon the Harvest, or Corn, Moon. The Choctaw Native Americans called it the Mulberry Moon, and the Dakota Sioux called it the Moon When the Calves Grow Hair.

I’ve long been quite entranced with the full moon names and their variations. Of course, they reflect both the need to mark passing time and the way that time was experienced by people who were living close to the land. Lunar time-keeping pre-dated our modern calendars (and some calendars, like the Jewish and Chinese calendars, are still lunar-based.) The Farmer’s Almanac has a good list of Native American full moon names and how each came to be.

Other, even older, cultures have had moon naming traditions, too. This site lists full moon names from Chinese, Celtic, Pacific Island, Native American, Pagan, and other cultures.

In addition to harvesting, some people even plant and garden by the phases of the moon.

I hope you enjoy fine Equinox and Harvest Moon, whether you’re harvesting food, memories, or warm family full-moon nights.

Gaisberg_and_rising_full_moon

 

Photos: Roadcrusher, Matthias Kobel

You might also enjoy:

The Wheel of the Year: Summer Turns to Fall
Walt Whitman’s Ode to the Harvest
Fall Foliage at its Peak
Celebrate May’s Full Moon
Happy Equinox and Super Moon

Enjoy June’s Full Supermoon

Look up in the sky! It’s Supermoon! On Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23, the moon will appear especially large and bright, due to its closer-than-usual relation to Earth. This supermoon, or perigee moon, will be the largest-appearing moon of 2013.

The supermoon will rise from the east around sunset, and then will appear huge and low on the horizon before rising into the sky for the night. Because the moon will be at its fullest Sunday at 7:30 am EDT, both Saturday and Sunday should offer ideal viewing opportunities for those with clear skies.

Read more science behind the supermoon.

Read tips for photographing the supermoon.

The Full Moon

Of course a supermoon is by definition full. People in many cultures throughout history have named the year’s full moons based on the activities that happened during them. The Farmers Almanac calls the June full moon the Strawberry Moon because, for the Algonquin Native Americans, June was synonymous with strawberries. The Cherokee called the June full moon the Green Corn Moon. The Choctaw referred to it as the Windy Moon. Celtic people referred to the June full moon as the Moon of Horses. Throughout much of more modern Europe, the June full moon was known as the Rose Moon, for that flower’s peak.

I’ve long been quite entranced with the full moon names and their variations. Of course, they reflect both the need to mark passing time and the way that time was experienced by people who were living close to the land. Lunar time-keeping pre-dated our modern calendars (and some calendars, like the Jewish and Chinese calendars, are still lunar-based.) The Farmer’s Almanac has a good list of Native American full moon names and how each came to be.

Other, even older, cultures have had moon naming traditions, too. This site lists full moon names from Chinese, Celtic, Pacific Island, Native American, Pagan, and other cultures.

Full Moon Gardening

Lots of people garden using the phases of the moon. The good news is that there isn’t one best time to plant — Each aspect of planting has an associated moon phase, based on how much moisture is pulled up through the soil by the monthly pull of the moon (much the way the moon influences the tides.)

The time just after the full moon is an especially good time for planting root crops, as the gravitational pull is high (adding more moisture to the soil) and the moonlight is decreasing, contributing energy to the roots. For this reason, the waning moon is also a good time to plant bulbs and transplants.

The Farmer’s Almanac offers a wonderful moon phase calendar for the U.S. that allows you to plug in your location and get the exact time of your local full moon.

Whether planting or watching, enjoy June’s full supermoon!

Graphics and Photos: Optics Central, Public Domain, NASA, Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow Nature: Keep a Moon Diary

The changing moon is a source of fascination for people of all ages.

Scientists, from ancient Babylonia to modern countries around the world, have attempted to explore it. Ancient people used the full moons to determine their calendars, and Native Americans named the full moons according to the activities that took place under them, such as harvesting and the first shoots of corn. The moon’s pull is tied to our tides and even our bodies. Many migratory animals are guided by the moon.

Why not make your own moon explorations and observations by keeping a moon diary?

Taking note of the moon’s phases and rhythms, as it moves through its cycle, is a great way to feel the rhythms of our lives and of nature. It can help younger children understand how long a month is. Of course, everyone has fun searching for the “Man in the Moon”. Look outside during the next full moon to try to find him.

You’ll need:

A blank calendar or pencil and paper
A view of the moon

Look at the moon each night after it has risen and record its phase, in writing or drawing, as it makes its monthly rotation around the earth. The amount of moon we see is really the amount of sunlight that is reflected on it during each phase. New moons are between the earth and the sun, so that the sun almost entirely shines on the part of the moon we don’t see. Full moons are on the side of the earth opposite the sun, so that sunlight shines on them in full. The moon always follow this pattern:

  • New
  • Waxing crescent
  • First quarter
  • Waxing gibbous
  • Full
  • Waning gibbous
  • Third quarter
  • Waning crescent
  • New

Here are some more fun activities to try:

Photo: NASA

Shine on, Harvest Moon

Songwriters have crooned about it. Farmers have counted on it. A Chinese festival honors it with special mooncakes. It’s the Harvest Moon, which traditionally shines its all-night beacon to help farmers gather their crops. In addition to being timed well for the job, the October full moon travels particularly close to the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere, so that it appears larger and closer than do other full moons throughout the year. It’s also visible for a longer amount of time than other moons — often all night — so that, especially before electricity, the harvesting needn’t stop at nightfall. And, if that weren’t enough, it also brightens the night sky for many successive days in a row.

All this week, those in northern latitudes have been and will be able to go outside on clear nights and witness the Harvest Moon. It’s due to be at its absolute fullest at September 30 at 3:19 Universal Time, or  11:19 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 8:19 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on September 29 in the U.S., so you’ll get good full moon shows all weekend, and fine shows throughout the week, whether you’re harvesting food, memories, or one of the last possibly warm full-moon nights.

Gaisberg_and_rising_full_moon

 

Photos: Roadcrusher, Matthias Kobel

You might also enjoy:

The Wheel of the Year: Summer Turns to Fall
Walt Whitman’s Ode to the Harvest
Fall Foliage at its Peak
Celebrate May’s Full Moon

Happy Equinox and Supermoon!

Ready for a change of season? The March Equinox will occur on Sunday, March 20th this year, marking the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and fall in the southern hemisphere. The exact time is 23:21 (or 11:21 p.m.) at Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is 4:21 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, 7:21 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time).

Equinox” means “equal night” in Latin and, twice a year (in March and September), the sun shines directly on the equator, and the length of day and night are nearly equal in all parts of the world.

In addition, the full moon that heralds the Equinox on the night of March 19th will appear especially large and bright, due to its closer-than-usual relation to Earth. This supermoon, or perigee moon, is due to rise in the east and be the biggest in almost 20 years. If you are blessed with clear skies tonight, you will probably want to have a look.

The Farmers Almanac calls the March full moon the Full Worm Moon and notes:  “As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins.”

Northern Native American tribes knew this moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter. They also used Full Crust Moon because the snow cover became crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night.

The Dakota Sioux named it the especially poetic Moon When Eyes Are Sore From Bright Snow. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is a Colonial American variation. More than one other culture calls it the Windy Moon. In Medieval England it was known as the Chaste Moon.

I’ve long been quite entranced with the full moon names and their variations. Of course, they reflect both the need to mark passing time and the way that time was experienced by people who were living close to the land. Lunar time-keeping pre-dated our modern calendars (and some calendars, like the Jewish and Chinese calendars, are still lunar-based.) The Farmer’s Almanac has a good list of Native American full moon names and how each came to be.

Other, even older, cultures have had moon naming traditions, too. This site lists full moon names from Chinese, Celtic, Pacific Island, Native American, Pagan, and other cultures.

Lots of people garden using the phases of the moon. The good news is that there isn’t one best time to plant — Each aspect of planting has an associated moon phase, based on how much moisture is pulled up through the soil by the monthly pull of the moon (much the way the moon influences the tides.)

The time just after the full moon is an especially good time for planting root crops, as the gravitational pull is high (adding more moisture to the soil) and the moonlight is decreasing, contributing energy to the roots. For this reason, the waning moon is also a good time to plant bulbs and transplants.

The Farmer’s Almanac offers a wonderful moon phase calendar for the U.S. that allows you to plug in your location and get the exact time of your local full moon.

Enjoy the new season and the supermoon!

Photos: NASA (Moon), Susan Sachs Lipman

Fall Begins Tonight with a Big Harvest Moon

The Autumnal Equinox will occur overnight tonight at 3:09 Universal Time (7:09 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, 10:09 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time), officially ushering in Fall. In a rare occurrence, a big, full Harvest Moon will be in the sky to greet it.

According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune: Typically, the Harvest Moon arrives within days or weeks of the Autumnal Equinox, but rarely does it align within hours. There hasn’t been a comparable coincidence since Sept. 23, 1991. Such an alignment won’t happen again until 2029.

As I wrote last year, the Harvest Moon is quite a magnificent, miraculously timed occurrence. It traditionally shines its all-night beacon at precisely the time farmers are gathering their crops. Because it’s close to the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere, October’s full moon is also particularly large and bright — quite helpful in the days before electricity, and perhaps even now.

Here is a good explanation of the how the September Equinox works.

Happy Fall!

You might also enjoy:

The Wheel of the Year: Summer Turns to Fall
Walt Whitman’s Ode to the Harvest
Fall Foliage at its Peak
Enjoy October’s Full Harvest Moon
Celebrate May’s Full Moon

Photos: Mattias Kobel, Susan Sachs Lipman

Celebrate May’s Full Moon

Gaisberg_and_rising_full_moon

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, today is the night and day of May’s full moon. The May Moon is known as the Full Flower Moon, in the moon naming tradition that was used by the Native Americans, largely Algonquins, who lived in the Northeast U.S., from New England to Lake Superior in the Midwest.

The Full Flower Moon received its name because of the abundant flowers that carpeted the land during its time. It’s also been called the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon.

I’ve long been quite entranced with the full moon names and their variations. Of course, they reflect both the need to mark passing time and the way that time was experienced by people who were living close to the land. Lunar time-keeping pre-dated our modern calendars (and some calendars, like the Jewish and Chinese calendars, are still lunar-based.) The Farmer’s Almanac has a good list of Native American full moon names and how each came to be.

Other, even older, cultures have had moon naming traditions, too. This site lists full moon names from Chinese, Celtic, Pacific Island, Native American, Pagan, and other cultures.

Lots of people garden using the phases of the moon. The good news is that there isn’t one best time to plant — Each aspect of planting has an associated moon phase, based on how much moisture is pulled up through the soil by the monthly pull of the moon (much the way the moon influences the tides.)

The time just after the full moon is an especially good time for planting root crops, as the gravitational pull is high (adding more moisture to the soil) and the moonlight is decreasing, contributing energy to the roots. For this reason, the waning moon is also a good time to plant bulbs and transplants.

One great moon is known to all farmers, late September or early October’s Harvest Moon (also known as the Blood Moon, Blackberry Moon, or Hunter’s Moon), which traditionally shines its all-night beacon to help farmers gather their crops. In the Northern Hemisphere, it happens to be an especially close, bright moon, in addition to sometimes lighting up the sky for days. I wrote about the Harvest Moon here.

The Farmer’s Almanac offers a wonderful moon phase calendar for the U.S. that allows you to plug in your location and get the exact time of your local full moon.

Enjoy the Full Flower Moon!

Photo: Matthias Kobel

Enjoy October’s Full Harvest Moon

Gaisberg_and_rising_full_moon

Songwriters have crooned about it. Farmers have counted on it. A Chinese festival honors it with special mooncakes. It’s the Harvest Moon, which traditionally shines its all-night beacon to help farmers gather their crops. In addition to being timed well for the job, the October full moon travels particularly close to the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere, so that it appears larger and closer than do other full moons throughout the year. It’s also visible for a longer amount of time than other moons — often all night — so that, especially before electricity, the harvesting needn’t stop at nightfall. And, if that weren’t enough, it also brightens the night sky for many successive days in a row.

All this week, those in northern latitudes will be able to go outside on clear nights and witness the Harvest Moon. It’s due to be at its absolute fullest at 1 am, Central U.S. Time, on October 4, so you’ll get good full moon shows all weekend, and fine shows throughout the week, whether you’re harvesting food, memories, or one of the last possibly warm full-moon nights.

Photo: Matthias Kobel

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