A Birthday Full Moon

Moon and clouds golden

Most commonly known as the Hunter’s Moon, this year the Full Moon occurs on my birthday. It’s not an uncommon event because the October Full Moon is usually around this time. I was not born under a Full Moon (you can check yours here). My day of birth was a waxing gibbous Moon which I see as optimistic as it is a growing Moon. (full report on that at the bottom of this post)

It looks full tonight but the true “full” peak illumination is at 10:57 A.M. Eastern Time tomorrow, the 20th, but then it will be below the horizon for me and I will have to wait until at least sunset to see it. It will still look quite full the net night too.

This Full Moon of October may appear larger and more orange when it first rises but that is a  “Moon Illusion.

Last month’s Harvest Moon and this Hunter’s Moon are unique in that they are names not fixed to a calendar month. The Hunter Moon is the first Full Moon after the Harvest Moon, but since the Harvest Moon can occur in either September or October based on the equinox, then the Hunter Moon can occur in either October or November.

The Cree people call this the Migrating Moon because it is the time when birds begin to fly south to warmer climates. In Paradelle, this was the month to climb up to the New Jersey Audobohn hawk watch to see birds headed south and following the mountain ridgeline and coast all the way to the tip of the state at Cape May.

Names for the Full Moons vary based on location and culture. The Drying Rice Moon is a Dakota name given for this time after the harvest for preparing rice for winter. The Falling Leaves Moon is an Anishinaabe term that highlights the transition between summer and fall. The Freezing Moon of the Ojibwe and the Ice Moon (Haida) tell me that they are located in a colder climate than Paradelle where frost is more likely than freeze.

According to moongiant.com this is what I should be because I was born on a waxing gibbous Moon day.

“This is when the Moon is nearing its full potential. Individuals born under this Moon are predisposed to be caring, nurturing, and calming. You likely excel at developing relationships with other people, guiding them and inspiring them to reach new heights in their lives. If you put in the time and effort, you can easily surround yourself with people who love you, or at least respect you.

On the flip side, this also means that you are acutely aware of your own potential – specifically, your own potential to achieve perfection. Tragically, even though you can be an amazing mentor and guide to others, that same impulse transforms into perfectionism when it comes to yourself. This compulsion can be debilitating if you don’t keep it in check. To fully achieve your potential, you need to accept that you will never actually be perfect, that there will always be room for more growth – and that’s what makes life beautiful.”

All-American Fourth of July Hay Moon

farm full moon

The Moon will be full on Sunday, July 5 at 12:44AM ET, which means it will look very full for the 4th of July tonight.  There may be fireworks where you live this year for Independence Day, but with pandemic still very much active in the United States, the sky might just be filled with a big Full Moon.

Tomorrow is also my younger son’s birthday. That big Moon will be shining on him in this strange 2020 when he celebrated his first Father’s Day. The summer solstice weekend was special for him and also an extra special day for me as a new grandfather.

There is a penumbral lunar eclipse. In my part of North America near New York, the eclipse begins July 4 at 11:07:23 pm but it ends July 5 at 1:52:21 am, so it bridges both days here. (Is it visible where you live?)

Honestly, a penumbral lunar eclipse is not very spectacular compared to other celestial events. It takes place when the Moon moves through the faint, outer part of Earth’s shadow, but this type of eclipse is often mistaken for a regular Full Moon.

The July Full Moon is most often called the Buck Moon, for the new antlers that emerge from a buck’s forehead around this time of the year. It is also called Thunder Moon, Mead Moon, Corn Moon, Huckleberry Moon, Time of Much Ripening and Salmon Moon.

This year I chose the Hay Moon as my title. This name came from the early American settlers who were harvesting, baling and storing hay for the winter. Many of our Full Moon names, such as Buck Moon, came from names used by the northeastern Algonquian Native American peoples that the first colonists encountered.

hay field
Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken By Snow

snow trees moon

The Full Moon today, January 10, is most often called the Wolf Moon,  a name adapted from names different northern American Indian names for this Full Moon. The name references the wolf packs that howled hungrily outside villages this month.

In 2018,  there was a Blue Moon (a second full moon in one calendar month) and a total lunar eclipse and it was the third in a series of three Full Moons that were supermoons. Some of the world saw a “ring of fire” eclipse of the Sun on December 26, and exactly two weeks later there will be a Wolf Moon Eclipse. Unfortunately, it will not be visible in North America. It will be visible from Europe, Africa, Asia and parts of Australia.

To the Zuni people, this Full Moon is Dayamcho yachunne, the Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken By Snow. Since the Zuni (Zuni: A:shiwi; formerly spelled Zuñi) are Native American Pueblo peoples native to the Zuni River valley in New Mexico. I think of that area, the interior Mountain West, as a semi-arid climate with hot summers. But the high altitude means cool nights as late as July there have been freezing temperatures. According to Wikpedia, that climate has winter nights cold enough that snow is common and sometimes heavy:

The current day Zuni are a Federally recognized tribe and most live in the Pueblo of Zuni on the Zuni River in western New Mexico. The Zuni tribe lived in multi-level adobe houses.

According to a Zuni legend, it was Coyote’s fault that we have winter because he stole the sun and moon.

This Cold Moon (called Unolvtani in Cherokee celebrations) marked the start of the season for personal and ritual observance, fasting and personal purification. It was a time for families to prepare for the coming of the next season which will start with the Windy Moon in March. The tools for planting are repaired, and new ones are made. The ancestors are honored with the telling of stories about them to young ones.

The Hard Face Moon of November

moon through pines

Today, November 12, 2019, at 8:37 A.M. the Moon became full again in my neighborhood. Commonly called the Beaver Moon, this was the Ful Moon that signaled for some Indian tribes and Colonists it was time to set beaver traps before swamps and rivers froze in order to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. For some people, the name meant that beavers were now actively preparing for winter.

There is no standard agreed-upon list of names for the monthly Full Moons and tat is especially trie among the Indian tribes of the Americas.

For example, the Cheyenne names for the Full Moons are often listed as the months of the Colonists calendar. That is why there may be two Moon names for one of our months.

Hard Face Moon is a name used by Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.

On November 29, 1864, a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped along Sand Creek in the southeastern Colorado Territory was attacked by the Colorado Territory militia. An estimated 150 to 200 Native Americans were killed, nearly all of them elderly men, women, and children.

Nancy Oswald uses the Sand Creek massacre as the climax for her historical novel, Hard Face Moon, which is the story of a young Cheyenne coming-of-age warrior, thirteen-year-old mute Hides Inside.  The story connects the earth and sky and the Cheyenne people, and it looks at one of the most shameful events in the history of the American West.”

Chief Black Kettle thought that by being peaceful with the whites he would be under the protection of the U. S. Army. The decision is not popular with his people, and the members of the Dog Soldier Society vowed to keep on fighting the whites.

The Sand Creek Massacre occurred in late November and probably was associated with the Hard Face Moon in their history.

Most of us have been told as children about the “Man in the Moon” and we can sometimes see a “face” in the Moon, especially when it is full. So, it is not surprising that people may have seen that face as a changing one.

While November is called by the Cheyenne He’koneneéše’he (Hard Face Moon) there are other months that use that “face” naming. February (He’konénehesó-eše’he) is called the Little Hard Face Moon. March is Heše’évenéhe-éše’he Dirt Face Moon, and October is Heše’kévénestseeše’he Dirt In The Face Moon.

But I find multiple names for the months/moons, such as October also being called Se’ma’omeveéše’he Starting To Freeze Moon.

In England this month was often the Harvest Moon, arriving a month or two later than in the U.S.

In the past, I have written about the November Full Moon as being called Hunters Moon, Snow Moon, (a name used by others for December and February) Sleeping Moon Before the Dark MoonFrost Moon, Trading Moon, Sleeping Moon (Celtic), Moon When Water Freezes and the Sassafras Moon.

In Paradelle this month, by this Full Moon we have had frost, a bit of snow, and no large bodies of water freezing . And that is why no one name for a monthly Full Moon can really apply to all places every year. Personally, I like the variety.

Full Moon, Solstice and Meteors

I will be traveling over the weekend and away from my computer, so I’m giving an early post about three upcoming celestial observations moon. Saturday, December 22, 2018 is our final full moon of the year and it occurs less than a day after the Winter solstice. That is close enough that to most people it will look like a Full Moon on the solstice. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice will be the longest winter night, but a big bright Moon will be a celestial nightlight for many of us. This is the third closest and largest of this year’s 13 full moons. I would guess to the ancients who were attentive to celestial occurrences, they might have seen deeper meanings in these three simultaneous events. A December solstice and Full Moon happening less than a day apart last happened in 2010. The next time will be 2029. I missed any good view of the Geminid meteor showers last week due to clouds and rain. This week the annual Ursid meteor shower occurs and they typically peak around the December solstice. They will still be strong on the 22nd and continue until about the 28th. The Ursids are not as impressive as the Geminids, although if you have never seen a meteor shower of “falling stars” or “fireballs” (get those kids outside!) seeing even a few is pretty impressive. I would recommend that you go out and look to the Big and Little Dippers. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor give their names to the meteor shower and are easy to find late at night high in the north-northeast. The big glare of the first December solstice full moon since 2010 will unfortunately being a celestial nightlight that will wash out some of the darkness.
You never see the Moon rotate as in the video above where it spins in full rotation. This footage from NASA explains that we never see this because our Moon is tidally locked in its orbit to the Earth, and so always shows us only one side. It takes some digital technology to combine many HD images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to make this virtual Moon rotation video. In this time-lapse video, we start with the standard Earth view of the Moon, then an entire lunar month is condensed into 24 seconds. Early full moons in December were called the Moon Before Yule by the European colonists who also knew it as the Oak Moon (Medieval English), Frost Moon, Freezing Moon, and Snow Moon. Native Americans had many names for this Full Moon including Long Night Moon, Cold Moon, Small Spirits Moon, Moon When the Wolves Run Together (Cheyenne) Moon of Respect (Hopi), and Moon of Popping Trees.

A Sassafras Moon in Taurus

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