August Moon When All Things Ripen

rosy moon of summerThis morning (August 15 8:31 A.M.  here), the Moon went full. It was so close to being full earlier in the week that it made it more difficult to see any of the Perseid meteor showers.

The most common name for this August Full Moon is the Sturgeon Moon. But I suspect that for the vast majority of Americans the sturgeon or even fishing is not a big part of their life this month. The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month.

Because I pay attention to threatened and endangered species, I want to note that all five U.S. Atlantic sturgeon distinct population segments are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. These populations are threatened by entanglement in fishing gear, habitat degradation, and habitat impediments such as dams and other barriers and vessel strikes.

Sturgeon – fisheries.NOAA.gov photo

In many cultures, the Full Moon names were actually applied to the entire month that followed. The Farmer’s Almanac has a list of Full Moon names with brief descriptions.

In Colonial America, the Europeans may have called this the Dog’s Day Moon.

Among the American Indian tribes, there were many variations in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were used among the Algonquin tribes from New England on west to Lake Superior. In the book This Day in North American Indian History the author looks at events, including Full Moon names, going back to the construction of Mayan temples in A.D. 715 to modern political activism and governmental legislation. It has 50+ native peoples.

I chose the Dakotah Sioux name Moon When All Things Ripen. The Cherokee called this the Fruit Moon.

The Klamath people are a Native American tribe of the Plateau culture area in Southern Oregon and Northern California, centered around the area around the Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath, Williamson, and Sprague rivers. They subsisted primarily on fish and gathered roots, berries, and seeds.

Different tribes started the year at different times. For example, the Juaneno people started the year with the winter solstice.  The Klamath people started the year with today’s Full Moon. They marked the months/moons on their fingers, so this moon was marked on the thumb and was called the Moon When Berries Dried.

This is the Celtic Dispute Moon, and it is the Neo-Pagan Lightning Moon.

If you’re feeling the heat and humidity where you are today, here’s a cooling thought: In the Southern Hemisphere, the August Full Moon is often called the Snow Moon. That’s a name we use in the North in January or February.

The Lightning Moon of August

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.

A Feather Shedding Moon for August

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The August Full Moon arrives in my neighborhood tomorrow, August 7 at 2:11 pm.

Names for the monthly Full Moons are very much culturally and geographically based. The August Full Moon is sometimes called the Corn Moon, but that name is used by others for the July Full Moon. It depends on your growing season. Similarly, I have heard it called the Barley Moon, which is also based on where you are located.

Some other names for the August Full Moon are: Worm Moon, Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, Sap Moon. It is the Celtic Singing Moon.

I see the August Full Moon called the Harvest Moon in some places. That is another name that varies in the month that it occurs. You might be harvesting in your locale, but the Harvest Moon is traditionally the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. Most years, that is in September though it can be in October. This year the equinox is on September 22, so the October 5th full moon is closer than the one on September 6.

The month of August meant that sturgeons were plentiful in the waters of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain, so the Algonquin who fished there called it the Sturgeon Moon. Originally, they used hooks made of small animal bones or the wishbones of birds.

The Assiniboine of the Northern Plains called this the Black Cherries Moon, while the Ponca were more concerned with it being the Corn In the Silk Moon and the Shawnee, “plum moon.” But August also meant that plants and animals were transitioning in preparation for colder weather. The Cherokee called this the Drying Up Moon, which certainly would be the situation in the Southwest.  The Cherokee have called it Dulisdi, Nut Moon, and the Dakotah Sioux refer to it as the Moon When The Calves Grow Hair.

I found that the Passamaquoddy people called this the Feather Shedding Moon which resonated with me because I have been seeing feathers on the ground on my walks lately.

The Passamaquoddy (Peskotomuhkati or Pestomuhkati in the Passamaquoddy language) are an American First Nations people who live in northeastern North America, primarily in Maine and New Brunswick, Canada.

Most birds molt once per year, but some lose their feathers slowly during the year.  A few, like the American Goldfinch, have two molts a year. I don’t know which species the Passamaquody were observing up North.  I suspect it may have been  ducks, geese and other waterfowl, some of whom lose most or all of their flight feathers all at once. This leaves them flightless for a short while, until new feathers grow in. Even a couple of flight feathers lost will inhibit their ability to remain airborne.

It seems counterproductive to lose all of them at once but it makes more sense for them to get the process done in one fell swoop rather than be inhibited throughout the year. I have read that many waterfowl molt after their nesting season.

Summer is half full, but I am seeing all the signs of it being half empty. There are Back-to-School ads already. A few nights have been autumn cool. Some leaves have fallen in the backyard. There are end of summer sales at the Jersey shore.

I say shed a few feathers, but don’t go flightless yet.

 

The Sultry Full Moon of August

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This month’s Full Moon occurs today, August 18. In Paradelle, it appeared early this morning, but when we look at it tonight it may look like the Full Red Moon that it is sometimes named. That is because, especially as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry summer haze.

Sultry is an interesting word that means, in referring to the air or weather, hot and humid, stifling, oppressive, muggy, sticky, or sweltering. But we also use it to refer to a person, especially a woman, and it means attractive in a way that suggests a passionate nature and sensual, sexy, voluptuous, erotic, or seductive. It’s likely to feel sultry outside for many Americans today. I’m not sure how sexy it will feel. What is the connection between the two definitions? Feel free to comment.

Indian tribes that fished, especially near the Great Lakes, often called it the Full Sturgeon Moon. That large fish was more readily caught during this late summer.

It was more likely to be known to the New World settlers, who measured the year and season based on the crops and flowers, by names such as the Grain Moon or Corn Moon. Corn Moon is a name given to several monthly Full Moons, especially by Indian tribes, and it varied based on geography. A green corn ceremony was celebrated by some tribes, while others were harvesting ripe corn now.

As a kid, I had seen the movie The Teahouse Of The August Moon (with Marlon Brando!) and that fictional place in Japan seemed quite romantic to me as a name for this Full Moon.

I saw someone posted that in the Chinese calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the full moon of the eighth month. That seemed odd to me, so I did some checking and that would be around mid or late September or early October in our Gregorian calendar version of the Chinese calendar..

A Double Moon Will Only Appear in Social Media This Week

double moon hoax

The idea that it will look like there is a double Full Moon this week on the August 27 because Mars is passing so close to Earth that it appears the same size as the Moon in the night sky, is complete lunacy.

This is a story – usually accompanied by a photo like the one here that I really hesitated to spread around again – that has had a very healthy life on social media and even earlier via email since the turn of the century.

It really gained power in 2003 when Mars did pass within 35 million miles of Earth on Aug. 27 of that year. Yes, that was its closest approach to our planet in nearly 60,000 years. But even though Mars appeared six times bigger and 85 times brighter in the night sky than it normally does, it was nowhere near the size of the Moon. It still looked like the reddish star.

If you have time to waste and search “double moon,” you’ll get lots of results. Facebook, the main vector of misinformation these days, has over a million shares on the hoax.  There may be a nice Full Moon to see in your night sky this week, but nothing more captivating about it than the monthly wonder of seeing it up there.

The August Sturgeon Full Moon

fishing by the full moon

Looking over the possible names for this month’s Full Moon (occurring Sunday, August 10th in 2014), this year I chose the Full Sturgeon Moon. It is not the most Romantic of Full Moon names, but is one that was used by some Native American tribes, particularly the Algonquin, who noted that this fish in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this Full Moon.

Here in Paradelle, the sturgeon is an endangered species. It is not a fish you will find on menus. The sturgeon family is among the most primitive of the bony fishes.

The shortnose sturgeon has a body that contains five rows of bony plates or “scutes.” Sturgeon are typically large, long-lived fish. Atlantic sturgeon have been aged to 60 years. They inhabit fast-moving freshwater rivers, lakes and, for some species, into the offshore marine environment of the continental shelf.  Atlantic sturgeon are similar in appearance to shortnose sturgeon but are larger in size with a smaller mouth and different snout shape.

In their estuarine and freshwater habitats, Atlantic sturgeon face threats from habitat degradation and loss from various human activities such as dredging, dams, water withdrawals and even ship strikes.

Atlantic Sturgeon

You may know that the delicacy caviar is salted sturgeon eggs which has been long associated with Russia and as a “treat of the tsars.” I have written elsewhere about the surprising history of New Jersey caviar.

In short, the Delaware Bay and Delaware River was one of the most productive sturgeon fisheries in the country in the late 1800s and the United States was the world’s top caviar exporter. A small town in New Jersey was named Caviar (or Caviar Point) because of its processing plant and railroad spur for sending the caviar north through the Pine Barrens to New York City.

In 1895, they were shipping 15 train cars of caviar and smoked sturgeon every day out of NJ. The fish were plentiful, but taking the females for their eggs, increasing demand and the species being one that is slow-maturing meant that this overfishing crashed the population and the business in the early 20th century.

Atlantic sturgeon were placed on the federal endangered species list. But Atlantic sturgeon were not eliminated from the Delaware River. The estimated 300 to 500 adult females that spawn there now is a very “endangered” population when compared to the estimated 180,000 breeding sturgeon believed to be in the bay prior to 1890, New Jersey monitors migration patterns and the slow comeback of the species.

American Indian names for the Full Moons, which was their calendar, always took note of the natural world.  August’s Full Moon was called the Green Corn Moon (being still early for some corn harvests in the north), Grain Moon, the Wheat Cut Moon (San Ildefonso, and San Juan Indians), Moon When All Things Ripen (Dakotah Sioux), the Moon When Cherries Turn Black or the Blueberry Moon (Ojibway).

Europeans and American Colonists took on much of the native information about the seasons but still tended to use names like Red Moon (for the reddish hue it often takes on in the summer haze), Mating Moon, Dog’s Day Moon (constellation), Woodcutter’s Moon, Chokeberry Moon, Summertime Moon, Corn Moon, and the Barley Moon.

Continuing with our Sturgeon Moon theme this month, we might wonder if fishing and fish activity changes when there is a Full Moon. That’s debatable and probably more about Moon Lore than about science. There are entire blogs devoted to Full Moons that I follow and there are plenty of theories.

The moonlight attracts or repels fish, depending on your beliefs and experiences. Of course, the actual fullest moment of the Moon isn’t always at night. It could occur during the day, so any influence would be felt then. This month, the Moon reaches its “full” moment in Paradelle in the afternoon at 02:09:24 pm (EDT) and on the Pacific coast it will be at 11:09:24 am. In Moscow, they can eat caviar, drink vodka and watch the Moon become full at 10:09:24 pm (MSK).

And, while we are thinking about the relativity of lunar events, this very Northern Hemisphere-centric blogger takes note that on the bottom half of this planet it is now time for the Snow Moon, Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, or Wolf Moon.