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The March Full Moon is often called the Worm Moon due to the early spring appearance of worms reappearing and the robins and other birds that enjoy them.

In 2019, it occurs on March 20 for those of us in the United States, but in any location it will be less noticed for worms and more noticed for two other aspects.

It will reach fullness just ahead of the vernal/spring equinox, which is a nice coincidence. This full moon will also be the third and last last “super moon” of the year.

The rising full moon will look slightly bigger and brighter because it is near its closest approach to Earth in its monthly orbit.

Perhaps you are someone who believes there are no coincidences, and so this triple crossing of celestial events will have greater meaning.

To astronomers, it is just another full moon, though I did read that the full moon on equinox day will allow for some interesting calculations. This is something that occurs every 19 years.

If you measure the shadow cast by a perfectly vertical stick when the Sun us at its highest point (zenith) on equinox day, the angle will be your latitude.

Or you can just look up and wonder at the big, beautiful Moon of ours.

 

If you were up early this morning you would have seen a lineup in the morning sky of Venus, Saturn and Jupiter on a line with the morning crescent moon. The lineup will be around for the next few mornings, so if there is a clear sky and you are up more than an hour before sunrise, it will be easy to spot.

Look east to the sunrise and the Moon will slide its way up past the three planets.

planets

The planetary lineup – via earthsky.org

This morning the waning crescent moon was right next to Jupiter. (This is best viewed from North America.)

Saturn and Venus are east of Jupiter and the line they seem to all be on is the ecliptic, or Earth-sun plane. This is the plane on which the other planets in our solar system and the moon all orbit, so we view them as being on this line.

On February 19, 2019 at 10:53 am ET, we will see the February Full Moon. Often called the Snow Moon, that name for this Full Moon might not make much sense if you are in a climate where snow is rare or non-existent.

I have written about most of the Full Moon names below (click links for earlier posts). The Wolf Moon may be one English name for this month, but in the U.S. the January Full Moon is the one sometimes called the Wolf Moon.

American Indian tribes have the most variety in naming the Full Moons which were a very important way of marking the passage of time.

Transposing the Cherokee names for our Julian calendar months, our February would be Kagaʔli or Gŭgăli, the Bone Moon or the “month when the stars and moon are fixed in the heavens.” I couldn’t find the exact reason for the “bone” symbolism. Maybe the bare bones of a difficult time of year when it came to food? There might be little food and you might even gnaw on bones and eat bone marrow soup. This was the traditional time for families to mark those who had departed this world with a family meal with places set for the departed. Maybe it is the bones of the departed?

Other tribes called this Full Moon the “Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon” (Wishram Native Americans), the “No Snow in the Trails Moon” (Zuni Native Americans).

In colder climes, Snow, Storm, Winter and Ice Moon were names that were used by Colonists.

Month Colonial America Cherokee Choctaw Celtic Medieval England Neo-Pagan Wiccan Algonquian English
February Trapper’s Moon Bony/Bone Moon Little Famine Moon Moon of Ice Storm Moon Snow Moon Storm Moon Snow Moon Wolf Moon

There is snow and ice in Paradelle at this time, but thankfully there is no famine or gnawing at bones or wolves waiting for me outside.

pig

The Lunar New Year begins on (using our Western Gregorian calendar) Tuesday, February 5, 2019. For most Westerners, this is known as the Chinese New Year and this year is the Year of the Pig. The date changes from year to year because it’s based on a lunar calendar, but it usually falls somewhere between mid-January and mid-to-late February.

But the Lunar New Year is also celebrated by other countries in East Asia, such as the celebration of Tet (in Vietnam) and Seollal (in South Korea).

In China, this is a time when many people return to their hometown to visit family. But in the United States, there are also festivities that many people – Asian and not – are aware of and may participate in, such as special foods and fireworks. Families will often give “lucky money” to young people, making offerings to ancestors and decorating and dressing in red color of the holiday.

The Pig is the last, the twelfth, of all zodiac animals. One myth is that the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party, and Pig was late because he overslept. Another myth story says that a wolf destroyed his house and he had to rebuild his home before he could go to the party and so had to take twelfth place. So, the last Year of the Pig was 2007.

The Pig is associated with the Earthly Branch (地支—dì zhī) hài (亥), and the hours 9–11 pm. In terms of yin and yang (阴阳—yīn yáng), the Pig is yin. In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth, and their chubby faces and big ears are signs of fortune as well.

People born in the Year of the Pig are said to have similar personalities and characteristics:

Pigs might not stand out in a crowd. But they are very realistic. Others may be all talk and no action. Pigs are the opposite.

Though not wasteful spenders, they will let themselves enjoy life. They love entertainment and will occasionally treat themselves. They are a bit materialistic, but this is motivation for them to work hard. Being able to hold solid objects in their hands gives them security.

They are energetic and are always enthusiastic, even for boring jobs. If given the chance, they will take positions of power and status. They believe that only those people have the right to speak, and that’s what they want.

There are cities in America that host large Lunar New Year celebrations. The only one that I have ever attended is in New York City. The city has one of the largest populations of ethnic Chinese people outside of Asia. If you visit the main “Chinatown” section of Manhattan tomorrow it will be a crowded party (despite cold weather) with parades and restaurants crowded with diners of all backgrounds ordering special holiday dishes. Actually, there are about ten “Chinatowns” in the New York City metro area. The Chinatown in Flushing, Queens has its own parade, and there are Lunar New Year celebrations in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

MORE  ChineseNewYear.net

 

There is snow on the ground in Paradelle and the Polar Vortex visited us this past week. The ground is rock-hard. Nothing is budding. But I saw my first robin today.

robin

There are a lot of things that are supposed to indicate that the spring season is near. That silly groundhog in Pennsylvania who was pulled out of his home, saw no shadow (Duh, it was cloudy) and so it is supposed to be an early spring. NOAA says Phil the Groundhog has a 40% accuracy rate over 133 years – about as good as a coin toss.

It is a sure sign of spring when I once again watch the film Groundhog Day, and whatever the weather might be, I get into the Zen of that film.

Animals pay no attention to calendars, but those that hibernate or spend more time  inside than outside (like most of us) during winter do sense a warming climate. There are also internal clocks that will signal that it is time for them to emerge.

It made a kind of sense to people at one time that if they observed an animal (bears in France, badgers in Germany, groundhogs in America) emerging but then heading back inside, it must “know” something about the weather ahead.

You can also be a sky watcher like the ancients, who paid more careful attention to things up there. The movements of the Sun and Moon were very important and today is a “cross-quarter” day in the solar calendar. Today falls exactly between a solstice and an equinox.

Though it might not feel like it, consider that winter is halfway over and spring is on the celestial horizon – whether it looks and feels like it outside. I have definitely noticed that there was a longer day(light) the past week.

Many nature and garden folks look to the plants in their neighborhood for signs of spring. But I can’t say that I have found them to be much more accurate than groundhogs. I saw some bulbs poking above ground back in December, but they stopped their progress. I have a patch of crocuses that get full sun all day in front of my home that always bloom a week or more before the others.


Take the snowdrops I have outside. When they bloom, it might be snowy and they add some white (and green) to the landscape. But Galanthus nivalis will bloom when they are ready no matter what the weather happens to be. They are early bloomers.  Mine are not poking out, but we have a warming week ahead, so they might break through.

Cultures and religions all have some type of seasonal celebrations. The Celtic holiday of Imbolc is an ancient one that honored Brigid (or Brigit), goddess of fire, poetry, healing, and childbirth. February first is Saint Brigid’s feast day.

The ancient Imbolc (from the Old Irish imbolg, meaning “in the belly”) is thought to have come from his time being when ewes became pregnant. Those would be the spring lambs. As February started, Saint Brigid was thought to bring the healing power of the sun back to the world.

Christians took the pagan holiday and repurposed February 2 as Candlemas Day (Candelora in Italy).  Though it is to mark the presentation of Jesus at the temple 40 days after her birth, the ceremony is to bring candles (and Brigid’s crosses) to church to be blessed.  So it offers the elements of fire and a birth.

 

May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell
Bless every fireside every wall and door
Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof
Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy
Bless every foot that walks its portals through
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.

 

What made that robin return to this cold northern place now? Birds that nest in the Northern Hemisphere tend to migrate northward in the spring to take advantage of emerging insect populations, budding plants and an abundance of nesting locations.

Though the vast majority of robins do move south in the winter, some remain and move around in northern locations. Robins migrate more in response to food than to temperature and fruit is the robin’s winter food source. I haven’t seen any robins in my area since autumn, so I assume they went south.

American Robins eat large numbers of both invertebrates and fruit. In spring and summer, they prefer earthworms, insects and some snails. they also eat a wide variety of fruits, including chokecherries, hawthorn, dogwood, sumac fruits and juniper berries. One study suggested that robins may try to round out their diet by selectively eating fruits that have bugs in them.

January 2019 lunar eclipse animation.gif

The eclipse will take place in the constellation of Cancer, just west of the Beehive Cluster.   Animation by Tomruen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Even people who don’t pay attention to the sky or even notice stars, planets and the Moon’s phases will probably take a look at the total lunar eclipse on January 21, 2019. The media have been talking about it for a few days already and throwing around terms like “Supermoon” and “Blood Moon.”

Here in the Americas, the eclipse will take place between the evening of Sunday, January 20 and the early morning hours of Monday, January 21. This eclipse will be visible in Paradelle and the New York metro area starting at 9:36 pm local time. The Earth’s shadow will be covering the lunar surface until 2:48 am – so plenty of time to get outside to look before bedtime and even more viewing for insomniacs.

The eclipse will be visible in its entirety from North and South America, as well as portions of western Europe and northwest Africa. Observers at locations in Europe and much of Africa will be able to view part of the eclipse before the Moon sets in the early morning (pre-dawn) hours of January 21.

The eclipse will occur at a time when the Moon is closer to Earth (perigee) than at other times and that is where the “super” comes from. It will appear somewhat larger to most viewers.

As with most lunar eclipses, the moon will appear somewhat reddish during the eclipse because of an optical phenomenon (Rayleigh scattering) of sunlight through the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s basically the same reason that we see sunsets as more reddish than the Sun at earlier parts of the day.

If you somehow miss the event, this is the last total lunar eclipse until May 2021.

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