The Birth Moon

Murphy’s Law of Full Moons is that when there is a Full Moon there will be clouds over my head.

Look towards the southeast on Tuesday to watch the Full Moon rise above the horizon. This Full Moon will reach peak illumination at 7:52 A.M. Eastern Time. It will appear large and, yes, this is a “supermoon” – a term I find rather overrated. The Moon will be at one of its closest points to Earth all year so it will appear somewhat larger. Most people won’t notice the difference but just in case you want to compare its closest point will be at 7:21 p.m. Eastern Time.

Strawberry Moon is the most common name for the June Full Moon. It’s a bit unusual that the name was used by colonists and also by tribes such as the Algonquin, Ojibwe, Dakota, and Lakota. Mid-June is a time for ripening ”June-bearing” strawberries (there are others that produce in other months. The Haida used the broader name Berries Ripen Moon which probably covers other types of berries too.

I have also written in the past about this as the Mead Moon and Honey Moon. The name “Honey Moon” suggests a connection to marriage “honeymoons” and there are traditionally a lot of weddings in June. But the term honeymoon comes from the idea that “the first month of marriage is the sweetest” and just combines honey (sweet) and moon (a calendar month). Then again, the month of June is named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.

The Tlingit people have used the name Birth Moon which refers to this being a time when some animals are born in their part of the Pacific Northwest. Geography certainly plays a role in Full Moon names. The Cree called this the Egg Laying Moon and Hatching Moon which also refers to a time of animal births.

An Eclipsing Full Moon for May 16, 2022

Photo by George Desipris – Pexels

A lunar eclipse is set to occur on May 15 and 16 and it will be a Supermoon and it will likely have a bit of a reddish color (“Blood Moon”. Supermoons are Full Moon that seems to be bigger than usual. The red comes from particles in the Earth’s atmosphere changing the color of the reflected light.

According to NASA, the eastern half of the United States and all of South America will have the opportunity to see every stage of the lunar eclipse. Totality will be visible in much of Africa, western Europe, Central and South America, and most of North America. A second lunar eclipse will take place on November 8.

Some info on all that is at space.com

All that makes calling this month’s Full Moon the “Flower Moon” or any of its other names seem rather anti-climatic. Common names for the May Full Moon are the Flower Moon and Planting Moon. Some less common but more interesting names and stories from past years on this site include: the Buddha Full Moon, Corn Planting Moon, Hare Moon, Moon When Frogs Return, Blue Moon and Day for Night, Milk Moon, Grass Moon, and another eclipsing Moon in the Shadow.

Pretty Debris

If you’re waiting to see Halley’s Comet, it won’t be back until 2061. We pass through its debris every year. That debris falling shows up in the night sky as the eta Aquariid meteor shower.

Meteors are falling towards Earth all the time, but most are particles no bigger than dust and sand. But whatever hits the upper atmosphere at speeds up to 45 miles per second will flare and burn up. On any given night, the average person can see from 4 to 8 meteors per hour.

Meteor showers are different. They are caused by streams of comet and asteroid debris, which create many more flashes and streaks of light as Earth passes through the debris field

Tonight and into the early hours of May 6, around 3:00 am CDT, is the eta Aquariid meteor shower as Earth has its annual encounter with the debris from Halley’s comet.

The point in the night sky from which the meteor shower appears to originate (the radiant) is in the constellation Aquarius. The shower is named for the brightest star in that constellation, eta Aquarii.

The autumn counterpart of this debris encounter is October’s Orionid meteor shower.

A Black Moon and Earthshine

Tomorrow night, April 30, 2022, there will be a Black Moon. It won’t look different, in fact, it won’t look like anything at all since a Black Moon is a name for a second New Moon in a single calendar month.

Full and New Moons can occur at different times because of time zone differences. It can even be in a different month. 

Black Moons may hold special significance to people who practice certain forms of Pagan religions and who believe certain actions become more potent when performed on the night of a Black Moon.

There was no New Moon in February this year which only happens about once every 19 years. There will be no Blue Moon in New York in 2022. That is a third Full Moon in a season with four Full Moons.

A sliver of a Waning Crescent Moon

The Waning Crescent Moon is the final stage of the lunar cycle and it begins when the sun illuminates less than half of the moon. This phase continues until the New Moon phase. This phase “ends” when the Moon and the Sun both rise at the same time, which starts the lunar cycle over again with the New Moon.

During this time, you can see the effect of “Earthshine.” It’s a matter of perspective. The Moon is always half-illuminated by sunlight just like Earth. A crescent Moon seen in the west after sunset or in the east before dawn is a sliver of the Moon’s lighted half.

When we see a crescent moon, that means that a nearly “Full Earth” appears in the Moon’s night sky. The full Earth illuminates the lunar landscape and that ic “Earthshine” – light from the nearly full Earth shining on the Moon.

Looking at Earth from the perspective of the far side of the Moon || Photo: Chinese Chang’e 5 T1 spacecraft

Day and Night Are Equal

sun moon

Spring has arrived. For a very long time, spring has symbolized renewal and rebirth. It is more than just sunshine, buds and blossoms.

It is not so surprising that the ancient Romans saw this time around the vernal equinox as the beginning of the new year. Their Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night) is for the two moments of the year when both day and night are equally long. But the spring equinox is the start of new life, while the autumn equinox marks the ending of things.

Many religions have incorporated spring into festivals, traditions, and holy days. Easter and Passover are the ones that get the most attention but there are other celebrations of spring.

Persia’s Zoroastrian festival of Nowruz originated in the 5th century B.C.  It celebrates the beginning of the growing season with decorated eggs and plant seedlings.

The Chinese festival of Qingming, or “Pure Brightness,” occurs in early April and honors the changing of the seasons with offerings of flowers, food, incense, and money to one’s ancestors’ graves. It has been celebrated for about 2500 years,

Qingming continues to be a highly anticipated annual event. The Japanese custom of Hanami (flower viewing) is the Japanese appreciation of the spring’s beautiful but brief spring blossoms like cherry and plum. This celebration is about 1,000 years ago old. It was started by aristocrats, but now it is celebrated by everyone.

I have written about the vernal equinox for the life of this blog. I have looked at all the official celebrations and at some of the unofficial traditions, such as spring cleaning. It is the season of change. Plant some seeds, literally and figuratively. Take care of them. It takes time for a harvest.

Full Moon Before the Equinox

moon

The Full Moon was rising last night but reached peak illumination at 3:20 A.M. EDT today. This Full Moon is often called the Worm Moon because worms sometimes emerge from wintering underground at this time. But, as with many Full Moon names, it all depends on where you live and the weather. Here in Paradelle, we have had some warm 60-70 degree days but we still have lots of nights near the freezing mark. I have seen robins in the backyard but I haven’t seen them nabbing any worms yet.

There is no special name for the Full Moon nearest to the spring equinox. Coincidentally, in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the Harvest Moon and that name in the Northern Hemisphere is given to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox.

The spring equinox is on March 20, two days after the Full Moon. That means that Easter (a moveable feast) falls after the next full Moon, which is the Pink Moon on April 16 and the next day is Easter Sunday 2022.

The bright Moon decreases the number of visible stars, but you can see in the early evening night sky the very bright Venus and below it are Mars and Saturn in the pre-dawn eastern sky, and Jupiter is just above the horizon close to sunrise.

The weekend finishes with an equinox which is not a viewable event, but it is an important marker in the Earth’s solar journey.