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Our Moon is always up there and one half is always illuminated by sunlight and the nighttime half is in its own shadow, even though we don’t always see that.

I post a lot about the Moon and I’m hardly alone in being fascinated by it. You may have an astronomical interest in it, or maybe a more Romantic interest. Either way, you probably only think of the view of the Moon from Earth and not the other way.

Right now we are in the last quarter phase when we see half the moon’s day side, and half its night side. I recently discovered that the shadow line dividing day from night is called the lunar terminator.

Here’s another way to view the moon, if only theoretically. If you were on the moon now while it is in its last quarter phase, as it is today, and you were looking back at Earth, you’d see the Earth at its first quarter phase.

Perhaps some day, a lunar-living blogger will post regularly about the phases of the Earth.

 

firts-quarter-earth

As seen from the moon, the terminator on the first quarter Earth depicts sunrise, as the first quarter Earth waxes toward its full phase.

 

supermoon

Comparison of a full moon and a “supermoon” Image: Stefano Sciarpetti

I’ll write more about the full moon of November 14, 2016 tomorrow, but this month’s full moon is the biggest, closest and brightest supermoon of the year. It’s also the closest supermoon since January 26, 1948. It won’t come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034, so this might be the big one for your lifetime. That’s probably true for me, though I’m hoping to see that next one too!

The Moon will officially look big and full on November 14 at 1352 UTC (9:52 a.m. AST, 8:52 a.m. EST, 7:52 a.m. CST, 6:52 a.m. MST, 5:52 a.m. PST). But in the Americas, the moon is closer to full on the night of November 13.

This is our second of three supermoons this fall. That unscientific but popular name for the “perigee moon” refers to when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. If and when a perigee moon coincides with the full moon, the extra-large, brightly-lit moon is known as a supermoon.

It’s worth looking up on November 13 and 14. The Moon will rise in the east around sunset and be highest in the sky around midnight.

new-moon-nasa

It was dark tonight on my walk in the woods. The days are getting shorter, but tonight is a New Moon which is sometimes called a Black Moon. That’s a popular term, not a scientific one, but the lack of a visible Moon tonight does make it a dark night.

A New Moon is the first phase of the Moon, occurring when the Moon and the Sun have the same elliptical longitude.

Halloween is a month away and the New Moon will occur in October 2016 the night before Halloween. That makes us think of the Black Moon being associated with Wicca and black magic.

Wikipedia says that a Black Moon can be a reference to any one of four astronomical events:
1. the second occurrence of a new moon in a calendar month
2. the third new moon in a season that has four of them
3. the absence of a full moon in a calendar month (which happens sometimes in February when January and March each have a second full moon)
4. the absence of a new moon in a calendar month which can only occur in February.

For some, any New Moon is a “black moon” because of the darker night.

Tonight’s Black Moon officially occurred at 8:11 p.m. ET, but for people in the Eastern Hemisphere, it will already be after midnight on Oct. 1 when it occurs. That means that on the other side of the globe it won’t technically be a “black moon” there.

Holidays guided by the lunar calendar are often made to coincide with things like the appearance of a crescent moon (which happens a few days from now). This will usher in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, beginning Sunday evening Oct. 2, and the Islamic New Year, Muharram, on Monday, Oct. 3.

quarter-moon

Moon phases are measured in quarters. This month’s New Moon is on July 4 (nice darkness for fireworks) and the First Quarter is July 11, followed by the Full Moon on July 19 and the Third Quarter on July 26. That may seem a bit illogical in its order, and the names may seem off too because a quarter moon appears to us as a “half moon.”

The moon reaches its half-illuminated last quarter phase at the same instant worldwide, it occurs at different times by the clock, depending on one’s time zone.  A last quarter moon rises in the middle of the night and shines in the morning sky.

Although half-lit, it’s called a last quarter or third quarter moon because the moon is three-quarters of the way in its journey from new moon to new moon.

first-quarter-earth-may-29-2016

First Quarter Earth as it would be seen from space

Tonight the Moon will look like a “half-moon” but it is officially at the First Quarter. It will be 45 percent visible to us, which certainly sounds like about a half-moon. About half of it will be illuminated by direct sunlight, but it will be only “7 days old” in its waxing growth from the New Moon when its unilluminated side was facing the Earth. So, it is a quarter of the way into its cycle of phases from new to full.

moon 4 phases

Quick Review

The Waxing (“increasing”)  crescent is when the Moon appears to be partly but less than one-half illuminated by direct sunlight.

First Quarter is when it looks like half a circle because it has completed one-quarter of an orbit around the Earth from either the full or new position.

Waxing Gibbous is when it appears to be more than one-half but not fully illuminated by direct sunlight.

The most popular phase, the Full Moon, is when the entire illuminated side is facing the Earth.

And then as we see less of it from Earth, the Waning Gibbous appears to be more than one-half but not fully illuminated by direct sunlight.

The Last Quarter is that other half of the Moon being illuminated by direct sunlight, and the Waning Crescent is the other side of the Waxing Crescent.

A nice site to see all the phases on a calendar is MoonGiant.com

hawk moon

This month’s Full Moon arrives in Paradelle on Tuesday Morning, October 27, at 8:05 am ET.

It’s getting cool, even cold for a few nights, and Halloween and the end of the month is a few days away. I should look back at the weather folklore I wrote about earlier and see what it portends for the coming winter.

For Paradelle here in the northeast…

Much rain in October, means much wind in December. It was a dry summer, September and October, so I don’t expect a windy end of the year.

A warm October, means a cold February. October for us was pleasant, mostly warm, but with some cool nights and the first frost – so, I guess February will be a mix.

A Full Moon in October without any frost, means a warmer month ahead. No frost predicted here for the Full Moon, so I expect a nice long autumn through Thanksgiving. That frost until November’s Full Moon which comes on the sixth this year.

This Full Moon is often called the Hunters Moon (also the Blood Moon or Sanguine Moon) when it is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon. That’s what we had last month being that it was the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox.

The Hunters Moon was an American Indian name as interpreted by the colonists for this time when leaves are off the trees offering a clearer view of the fattening deer and it is the time to begin storing up meat for the winter ahead.

Other American Indian names for this Moon include the Choctaw “Blackberry Moon” and the Dakotah Sioux “Moon When Quilling and Beading is Done.”

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