Tonight, our Moon will be full and that often obscures some stars or planets in its glare. But the star charts tell me that Aldebaran, a bright star that forms part of the “face” of Taurus the Bull, and the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus’ “shoulder” should still be visible. I am away from Paradelle and near a dark ocean, so viewing will be different from my home turf.
The November Full Moon is often called the Beaver Moon or Frosty Moon. Back in Paradelle, frosty would be the right word to describe the weather conditions tonight. I’m not in the Southern Hemisphere, but I am close today, so it feels more like spring than late autumn. In either location, this Full Moon shines in front of Taurus the Bull for this third and final full moon of our Northern Hemisphere autumn (or the Southern Hemisphere spring).
We might also use one of the American Indian names for this Full Moon. I believe it is the Choctaw that call this the Sassafras Moon. Sassafras is a tree commonly found throughout the eastern United States that grows up to about 60 feet in height. The tree is also sometimes called cinnamon wood.
I’m sure that the native Americans observed deer and porcupines eating the leaves and twigs. Rabbits eat sassafras bark in winter. Sassafras fruits are eaten by many species of birds, including bobwhite quail, wild turkeys, gray catbirds, pileated and downy woodpeckers. Sassafras root and bark was used in cooking and also herbal remedies. The leaves were used for tea.
Sassafras was also a component is commercial sodas, especially root beer – hence the root name. The key word is was. Sassafras has fallen out of favor because the root bark contains safrole, a volatile oil that the FDA banned as a potential carcinogen in the 1960s. With the safrole removed, it can be legally sold as a topical skin wash or as “aromatic potpourri.”
Whether tonight will be wintry frosty cold or spring like warm, this season we are in runs from the September equinox to the December solstice.
In December, the full moon will occur less than one day after the December solstice, a nice combination, though we will miss having four moons in this season.