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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).

Sassafras albidum growing in Paradelle

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.

Taurus

Taurus as depicted in Urania’s Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London in 1825 as part of a treatise on astronomy.

 

 

Wednesday, 24 October 2018 is the day of the October Full Moon. It is commonly known as the Hunter Moon and also as the Blood Moon or Sanguine Moon. This is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the Full Moon nearest the autumnal equinox. In most years, including 2018, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October.

Sanguine is a curious word to attach to the Full Moon. Sanguine usually means “blood-red” and is associated with chalk of a reddish-brown colour, so called because it resembles the colour of dried blood. It has been popular for centuries for drawing and is preferred to common white chalk which only works on colored paper.

But “sanguine” (which comes via French from the Italian sanguigna and originally from the Latin sanguis) also means optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation, as in “She is sanguine about prospects for the upcoming elections.”

The Native Americans of the northern and eastern parts of the continent named this Full Moon that came at a time of leaves falling, deer fattened by summer growth and harvests, and concerns for getting game to store for the winter ahead. The appearance of “blood” in the naming comes from the hunting and also from the sometimes reddish appearance of the Moon when it first rises.

Some of the other names associated with this Full Moon are: Travel Moon, Dying Grass Moon, Moon of Falling Leaves (sometimes used in November), Moon When the Water Freezes, Blood Moon, Leaf Fall Moon, Basket Moon, Big Wind Moon, Shedding Moon, Winterfelleth (Winter Coming), Windermanoth (Vintage Month), Ten Colds Moon and the Moon of the Changing Seasons and Moon of the Changing Seasons

The Harvest Moon and Hunter’s Moon are the traditional names for the Full Moons occurring in autumn, usually in September and October, respectively. These two names go back to the early 18th century.

The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon closest to autumnal equinox. This year it became full in the early morning today, September 25, 2018. The Hunter’s Moon is the Full Moon that follows the next month.

Coincidentally, or apocryphally, some Native Americans also referred to this Full Moon as a hunting moon. Indian tribes of eastern and northern North America had as diet staples corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice, and of which would normally be ready by this Full Moon. The Corn Moon was another Native American name for this Full Moon.

In 2010, the Harvest Moon occurred on the night of the equinox itself for the first time since 1991. Most years, the Harvest Moon is in September though it can be in October.

There are other names for autumn Full Moons: Nut Moon, Mulberry Moon, Gypsy Moon, Singing Moon, Barley Moon, Barley Moon, Elk Call Moon and Fruit Moon.

I know that many people think of the Harvest and Hunter Moons as being more orange-tinged. That fits in nicely with autumn tree colors and Halloween decorations, but really the Moon will not appear any more orange or red this season than it will during the year when there is enough atmosphere/pollution to add some color to our view. Also, the tilt of the Earth after the equinox gives a warmer color of the moon shortly after it rises. But it is an optical illusion. When the Moon is low in the sky, we are looking at it through more atmospheric particles (including pollution) than when the moon is overhead. All of that scatters the blue light but allows the reddish component of the light to travel a straighter path to your eyes.

And that low hanging Moon, to our eyes, is also perceived as being larger than one that is high in the sky. This is known as a Moon Illusion.

The Full Moons of September, October and November as seen from the northern hemisphere correspond to the full moons of March, April and May as seen from the southern hemisphere.

Though the Moon will be “fullest” in Paradelle at 01:56:12 pm today, I will (like most of us) be looking up at it tonight.

One neo-pagan name for this August Full Moon is the Lightning Moon, and around Paradelle there has been a lot of thunder, lightning and rain.

This August Full Moon is also known as the Sturgeon Moon, since that large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water were most readily caught during this month. It may be called the Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze.

The video visualization that tops this post tries to capture the mood of Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” (moonlight in French) from 1905 with images from NASA of the Moon built from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. “Clair de Lune” is the third of four movements in his Suite Bergamasque, but this section is quiet, contemplative, and melancholy. It feels right for solitary gazing at the Moon, full or not, inside or outside.

Maybe you can combine the video and music with one of these relaxation techniques tonight and ease yourself into a gentler new week ahead.

golden moon

Tonight’s July Full Moon is usually called the Buck Moon. I saw on the calendar that there is a Night Hike under the Full Buck Moon at the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area near me in New Jersey. That is a beautiful natural beach area and if all the rain of his week clears out for the evening there, it should be a great setting to observe the ecosystem below that Full Moon.

That Buck Moon name comes at a time of year when a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode. This is known as when the antlers are in velvet. They will do their bloody scraping of those antler and prepare for rutting season closer to autumn.

Both American Indians and colonists used the Buck Moon name, but there are many other American Indian tribal names that use notable nature signs from their geographic region. For example, the Cree noted this as the Moon When Ducks Begin to Molt.

The Lakota called this the Moon When The Chokecherries Are Black and other tribes noted this as the time for huckleberries. Several tribes referenced the corn which was an important crop that they planted and relied upon. This gives us names such as the Corn Moon, Young Corn Moon or Ripe Corn Moon (Cherokee). For the Choctaw this was the Little Harvest Moon or Crane Moon.  depending on your location. The Algonquin called this the Squash Are Ripe Moon.

I used this year the more general Mohawk name of the Time of Much Ripening because wherever you are in the Northern Hemisphere some things are ripening.

And yes, today is also the “century’s longest lunar eclipse” is also today BUT this lunar eclipse is primarily visible from the world’s Eastern Hemisphere (Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand). In South America, you can watch the final stages of the eclipse just after sunset July 27, whereas New Zealand will catch the beginning stages of the eclipse before sunrise July 28. For those of us in North America, most of the Arctic and much of the Pacific Ocean, we will miss out entirely.

The name Strawberry Moon was used by all the Algonquin tribes for the June Full Moon that arrived today. The most popular name in Europe was the Rose Moon. (Strawberries are not native to Europe.) Both names reference the fairly short seasons for harvesting the berries and the blooms this month.  American Indians tended to use the more practical names of foods rather than the more decorative blooms.

This is the month when summer arrives in the North, the days are longer and the sunsets are later.  If you look up to the Full Moon tonight, it will be near the planet Saturn and the star Antares in the eastern sky at dusk and nightfall. As our planet turns, the three of them will move westward and climb highest around midnight, and be low in the west at dawn.

It would be Romantic to think that a rose or strawberry moon would be reddish in color, but when the Moon appears colored it is about atmospheric conditions and not the Moon itself and can occur throughout the year.

My youngest son was married this month and June has been traditionally a popular month to wed. The belief that the first month of marriage is the sweetest, gave us a “honeymoon.” Some compared marriage to the phases of the Moon – changing from the Full Moon of the marriage day and changing constantly, sometimes fuller, sometimes less.

The Brits who came to the New World may have known this as the Mead or Honey Full Moon which was a name more commonly used in Europe in medieval times. The heavy pollen of spring did make hives full of honey, and that led to the honey wine (mead) that was discovered by Irish monks during medieval times.

The mead acquired a reputation for enhancing virility and fertility and acting as an aphrodisiac. Perhaps, this is the true etymology of the “honeymoon.” I read that there had been an Irish tradition for newlyweds to drink honey wine every day for that first month of marriage.

The combination of strawberries, roses and honey are not a bad threesome for a romantic night, even if you are far from any true honeymoon.

NOTE: I am reminded by  earthsky.org that the bright reddish “star” near the Moon these nights is Mars, now very bright at the midpoint between your local sunset and midnight every night, and that by the month’s end, Mars will exceed the brilliance of Saturn by some 15 times.

 

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