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Is today’s Full Moon (which occurred for me at 3:03 AM) the Harvest Moon? That is one of the Full Moon names 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. No Harvest Moon just yet.

September and October’s  moon when called Harvest and Hunter both share the idea that these moon’s particularly bright appearance and early rising aided farmers’ harvesting times and offered more light to stalk game.

The September and October Full Moons are sometimes said to be larger and even more orange in color. The warmer color of the moon might be seen shortly after it rises because of an optical illusion. When the moon is low in the sky, you are looking at it through more atmospheric particles and pollution than when the moon is overhead, so the atmosphere scatters the bluish component more than the red end of the light. That’s also conversely why moonlight is often seen and depicted as blue from the reflected white light from the sun.

Are these moons bigger? Well, not because the Moon is closer but because we perceive a low-hanging moon to be larger than one that’s high in the sky. This “Moon Illusion” can be seen with any full moon.

From the Choctaw people, I have selected the Mulberry Moon as the name for this month’s Full Moon. The Choctaw are a Native American people originally occupying what is now Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Mulberries are multiple or collective fruits, formed from a cluster of fruiting flowers. Each flower in this inflorescence produces a fruit, but these mature into a single mass. Botanically the mulberry is not a berry but a collective fruit. It looks like a swollen loganberry.

The small fruits swell, change color from red to a darker color and are fat and full of juice.  The color of the fruit does not identify the mulberry species, and there are white mulberries that produce white, lavender or black sweet fruit. Red mulberry fruits are similar but not quite as sweet as the black mulberry. It is the black mulberry fruits that are large and juicy, with a nice sweet and tart balance that gets them the best reviews. Some compare the tartness to a grapefruit. Mulberries also ripen over an extended period of time, so they don’t have to be picked all at once.

The most commonly used name for this month is the Corn Moon. The Celtic name is the Singing Moon and an English Medieval name was the Barley Moon.

There are many Indian tribal names for the Full Moons and they vary widely as they are centered in signs from nature in their geographic area. Moon When the Plums Are Scarlet is used by the Lakota Sioux, and Moon When the Deer Paw the Earth by the Omaha tribe. The Haida of Alaska would call this the Ice Moon, but the Dakotah Sioux call it the Moon When The Calves Grow Hair. The Cree tribe of Northern Plains Canada call this the Snow Goose Moon.

Ice and snow are thankfully not part of September here in Paradelle.

The full moon of September as seen from the northern hemisphere corresponds to the full moon of March as seen from the southern hemisphere, so you southerners can read my Whispering Wind Moon post today.

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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.

 

I will look for the Full Moon low in the eastern sky around sunset tonight, July 8. It will be highest around midnight. In my neighborhood it technically was “full” at 12:07 am EDT, but most of us only count it as full when we see it at night no matter what time the scientists tell us.

July is typically the stormiest month of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. The hot weather makes thunderstorms fairly common, so the Thunder Moon is a good name for most of us this month.

Thunder is the sound caused by lightning. Depending on the distance and nature of the lightning, thunder can range from a sharp, loud crack to a long, low rumble. As we learned in science class, the sudden increase in pressure and temperature from lightning produces rapid expansion of the air surrounding and within a bolt of lightning which creates a sonic shock wave, similar to a sonic boom.

Thor

The name of the Germanic god Thor comes from the Old Norse word for thunder. Thor is the most well-known of the many thunder gods in world mythologies.

Thor is also the origin of the weekday name Thursday. During the Roman Empire period, the Germanic peoples adopted the Roman weekly calendar, and replaced the names of Roman gods with their own. Latin dies Iovis (‘day of Jupiter’) was converted into Proto-Germanic Þonares dagaz (“Thor’s day”), from which stems modern English “Thursday.”

The July moon that is also called the Buck Moon or Deer Moon because deer begin to show antlers which are in their “velvet” stage. That is a name that both American Indians and colonists might have used. Some farmers refer to it as the Hay Moon as they take in their first cutting of hay.

Some Indian tribes, based on location, treated this as an early harvest moon. The Choctaw called it the Little Harvest Moon. While the Cherokee of the Southwest called this the Ripe Corn Moon, the Potawatomi (people of the Great Plains, upper Mississippi River and Western Great Lakes region) called this the Moon of the Young Corn.

The European Mead Moon name didn’t hold over in the colonies although this would be a time when increased honey harvest would lead to mead making.

Tonight is a Full Moon. With a Full Moon and also with a New Moon our only permanent natural satellite is on a line with the Earth and sun. When new, the moon is in the middle position along the line, and when full, Earth is in the middle. A Full Moon always comes about two weeks after the new phase.

I wonder if this alignment of the sun, Earth and moon is part of the appeal of a Full Moon. A lunar eclipse always happens at Full Moon as only then the Earth’s shadow, extending opposite the sun, can fall on the Moon’s face.

A Celtic name for the April Full Moon is the Growing Moon, referring to this time of plants returning to their growing seasons and humans turning to planting again.

No matter what the mixed weather of march may have brought to your area last month, at least some days of April will feel like true spring has arrived.

This month’s moon is sometimes called the Pink Moon, not for its color, but for the color of the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Of course, I am also seeing plenty of yellow forsythia, daffodils and crocuses in neighborhood gardens.

Names like the Full Sprouting Grass Moon and Seed Moon are also growing reminders.

The Egg Moon name reminds us of new life from the eggs of birds and fowl and echoes the egg themes of Easter and Eostre.

The name Fish Moon references this time when shad move upstream to spawn.

This Sunday starts the annual Lyrid meteor shower which I think of as an April spring event. It is active each year from about April 16 to 25. In 2017, the peak of this shower is expected to occur the morning of April 22.

As is often the case, the Moon looked full last night although it just became an official Full Moon as I hit the publish button on this post at 10:54 am ET. It will certainly look very full tonight.

This winter-into-spring moon is often called the Worm Moon, and last year I chose the name the name Earth Cracks Moon. The latter sounds rather ominous, but like the Worm Moon it refers to the heaving soil as we transition into spring with cold nights and warm days. That thawing ground will be marked in many areas with the earthworm casts that appear as they emerge. They are very attractive to another symbol of spring – worm-loving robins. The Full Crust Moon is another name that was used by some Indian tribes.

Although the wind in March is often quite blustery in some parts of the U.S., I optimistically chose the gentler Hopi name for this lunar occurrence of the Whispering Wind Moon. The Hopi tribe now primarily live on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Their name for this Full Moon is fitting for the tribe because Hopi is a shortened form of their autonym, Hopituh Shi-nu-mu which means “The Peaceful People” or “Peaceful Little Ones.”

New World settlers called this last Full Moon of winter the Lenten Moon and also the Sap Moon. The latter name marks the time of tapping maple trees. The Lenten Moon marks the religious observance in the liturgical calendar that occurs during this lunar month. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday.

As Lent is seen as the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement, and self-denial, it fit well with the non-religious view of starting the year anew for farmers, ranchers and those looking to do “spring cleaning” and get a fresh start.

There are more Indian names for the Full Moons than the Colonists used because there were many tribes in many locations and their names for the Moon phases were based on their local observations of nature. Some northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, because the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter. Other names used by Native American Tribes: Rain (Diegueno). Bud Moon (Kiowa). Eagle Moon,Rain Moon (Cree). Green Moon (Pima). Deer Moon (Natchez). Moon of Winds (Celtic). Lizard Moon (San Juan). Death Moon (Neo-Pagan). Wind Strong Moon (Taos). Amaolikkervik Moon(Inuit). Little Frog Moon (Omaha). Little Spring Moon (Creek). Crane Moon (Potawatomi). Long Days moon (Wishram). Big Famine Moon (Choctaw). Moose Hunter Moon (Abenali). Whispering Wind Moon (Hopi). Little Spring Moon (Muscokee). Fish Moon (Colonial American). Snow Sore Eyes Moon(Dakota). Catching Fish Moon (Agonquin). Snow Crust Moon (Anishnaabe). Spring Moon (Passamaquoddy). Much Lateness Moon (Mohawk). Chaste Moon (Medieval English). Buffalo Calf moon (Arapaho, Sioux). Seed (Dark Janic), Plow Moon (Full Janic). Strawberry, Windy Moon, Lenten Moon (Cherokee). Worm Moon, Sugar Moon, Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon. (Algonquin).

Not all calendars, including our traditional Western calendar, follow the phases of the Moon. In the solar Hebrew calendar, the months change with the new Moon, so the full Moons fall in the middle of the month. A solar year is about 11 days longer than twelve lunar months, so to keep holidays tied to their seasons, the Hebrew calendar occasionally repeats the month of Adar.

In the Islāmic calendar, the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon, a few days after the New Moon. Unlike the Hebrew calendar, the Islāmic calendar has no leap days or leap months to stay in sync with the seasons, and Islāmic holidays occur approximately 11 days earlier each solar year.

snow-moon-pixa

We can refer to tonight’s February Full Moon as the Snow Moon, Ice Moon, Hunger Moon, Old, Storm or Grandfather Moon. Most names for the month refer to very wintery weather. Of course, if you’re in a warmer climate, they may seem inappropriate.

Tonight’s Full Moon also coincides with a penumbral lunar eclipse. They are not as spectacular or as noticeable as a total lunar eclipse. When the Moon moves through the outer part of Earth’s shadow (which is known as the penumbra), the shadow blocks part of the sun’s rays. Therefore, the Moon will only appear slightly darker than usual.

To Colonial Americans, this was the Trapper’s Moon or simply the Winter Moon.

Tonight’s Full Moon will fall on a snow-covered Paradelle, so the moonlight should be quite bright, even with that Earth shadow.

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