Missed Moon On Midnight Snow

half moon
A waning half Moon during the day today.

I missed a Full Moon.  It has been years that I have written here about the Full Moons, but I missed the January 17, 2022, Full Moon.

There was a snowstorm that swept through the country the night before. I like snowfall that appears, turns the world black and white, and then disappears like a page turned. I had this post written days before the Moon’s shift to fullness, but I failed to hit the “publish” button. So, here it is, on a night of a waning Moon with another snowstorm – a nor-easter, a bomb cyclone – coming for the weekend.

Photo: Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

It is quite lovely to see a Full Moon on a clear winter night when the ground is covered with fresh, glistening snow.

From November through February the Moon is high at midnight.  From May through July the Moon is very low in the sky. In March, April, August, September, and October the Moon is somewhere between. So, tonight’s Full Moon will be high in the sky at midnight.

Looking through a very long list of Moon names used by American Indian tribes, I found wide variety for this January Moon. The Algonquin tribes call it the Moon When the Sun Has Not the Strength to Thaw. That would be true in the North. The Chippewa and Ojibwe use the name Great Spirit Moon. The Apache, being in a warmer climate, call this the Time of Flying Ants. But colder January times figure into most names, such as Northern Arapaho’s When the Snow Blows Like Spirits in the Wind and the Cheyenne Moon of the Strong Cold. I like the Muscogee (Creek) name for this Full Moon – Winter’s Younger Brother.

For those who follow such things, this first Full Moon of 2022 falls in the intuitive, sensitive sign of Cancer, a sign that is supposed to remind us of feeling at home within ourselves. As with New Moons, this Moon of the new year could be a signal for a fresh start and letting go of what we don’t want to carry into the new year.

A friend who does follow astrology told me in an email that tonight I should “cleanse my aura.” I had to research that suggestion.

First of all, what is my aura? “Your aura is the energy field that surrounds your body. It acts as a magnetic field of energy that picks up on emotions, health, psychic debris, and circumstances around you. Your aura can experience stress as you exchange energies with those around you, which is exactly why you need to clean your auric field from time to time.”

It turns out there are many ways to do this and some of them are things I do regularly, such as getting into nature, soaking baths, or meditation. There are cleansing tools, such as crystals, herb sticks, bells, sage smudging. Using a New or Full Moon as a time for self-reflection is certainly not a bad twice-a–month reminder.


The Goddess Chang’e Returns for the Full Moon

Chang’e, with an attendant, greets a scholar against the backdrop of the moon. Inside the lunar palace, a white rabbit prepares the elixir of immortality. (THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART / PUBLIC DOMAIN)

This month’s Full Moon arrives today, January 28, This second full moon of the winter season is most commonly called the Wolf Moon or Hunger Moon. It is also called the Snow Moon, though that name is attached to different months by different groups.

I read some space news last month that made me think of using a mythological figure this month. Chang’e (or Chang-o for simpler pronunciation) is the Chinese goddess of the Moon. She is the subject of several legends in Chinese mythology, She is not associated with any particular Full Moon but her story of Chang’e plays a central role in the annual Mid-Autumn Festival.

In modern times, Chang’e appropriately has been the namesake of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program.

Chang-e-5 Orbiter Ascender seperation
Chang’e-5 Orbiter Ascender separation – Wikimedia

China launched its first lunar probe in 2007. It was a robotic spacecraft named Chang’e 1. A third Chang’e spacecraft landed on the Moon on December  14, 2013 and delivered the robotic rover Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) to the lunar surface. In January 2019, Chang’e 4 touched down on the far side of the Moon and deployed the Yutu-2 rover. The Chang’e-5 ascent vehicle which carried samples into lunar orbit was then commanded to crash into the moon after completing its role in the mission. China currently has three operational landers on the moon but it is unclear if they can carry out science related to the impact.

Chang’e and her story is the main theme of the 2020 American-Chinese animated feature film Over the Moon produced by Netflix which I saw when it was first shown at the Montclair Film Festival in October 2020.

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.

Maybe the Rainbow Fish New Year’s Day Supermoon Will Herald a Super 2018

By a commonly accepted definition, a supermoon has to come within 225,027 miles (362,146 km) of Earth.  They are not that rare and happen every few months. The Full Moons January 1 and 31, 2018, count as supermoons, and we can call the January 31 Moon a Blue Moon (a second in the same month).

It is a rarer occurrence that the new year is bookended by Full Moons on the first and last day and that both are “supermoons.” That popularized term is used to describe a new or full moon that occurs at roughly the same time the moon is nearest Earth (perigee) in its monthly orbit.

This New Year’s Day Full Moon is most often called the Wolf Moon, which is not a name that feels optimistic.

Why even give the Full Moons names?  That’s simple to answer. From the ancients through many other groups, including the early Native Americans, months didn’t exist because they didn’t use a Julian or Gregorian calendar. People gave each full moon a nickname to keep track of the seasons and lunar months. Lunar calendars came into being and are still used. The Moon’s phases are easier to observe than solar movements, but they are more variable.

Lunar Calendar by Fernando de GorocicaOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Most of the Full Moon names relate to an activity or an event that took place at the time in each location, so names are often both cultural and geographically bound. Your “Snow Moon” may well be quite warm and snow-free. Some groups  counted four seasons a year while others counted five, and some defined a year as 12 moons, while others said there were 13. Colonial Americans adopted some of the Native American names and so they were written down and still survive.

For January, “Wolf Moon” was used in Europe as well as here in America, but other European names included Ice Moon and Old Moon. Still, I was searching for a more optimistic January Moon name after a personally and nationally tough 2017.

There is the Chinese Holiday Moon, the Moon After the Yule and the Celtic Quiet (Quite) Moon which all sound kinder. But the new name I settled on for this year’s post is from New Guinea – the Rainbow Fish Moon. That calendar does not follow our months but this is the name listed for January’s Full Moon.

I could not find why this little fish is associated with this time. Does it spawn now or appear in greater numbers? Anyone from New Guinea reading this post who can comment?

There is a children’s book, The Rainbow Fish, that is new to me but apparently a very popular book. It has eye-catching foil stamping  illustrations that glitter on every page. The story is  about a beautiful fish who learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions and about individualism. Good messages, though it seems that has been interpreted differently by some.

The story was made into an animated television series of the same name.

And if you are reading this in the Southern Hemisphere, are you calling this the Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, or Mead Moon? Post a comment!

First Supermoon of 2015

New Moon – NASA

Tonight is the first of six supermoons in 2015. It’s bit odd because we usually call some Full Moons “supermoons” but tonight is a New Moon. According to earthsky.org, the New Moons on January 20, February 18 and March 20 all qualify as supermoons. The Full Moons of July, August and September will get more attention because the brightness of a Full Moon does seem more spectacular.

The term supermoon is a pop astronomy creation used to call perigee New Moons or perigee Full Moons. Perigee means “near Earth.”

It was an astrologer, Richard Nolle, who gets credited with coining the term and his definition is  “a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth.”

There is a matter of timing here. Tonight the Moon is “new” 13:14 UTC, but lunar perigee for this month doesn’t happen until tomorrow, January 21, at 20:06 UTC.

I don’t think you will be amazed looking at tonight’s Moon. Next month, the February New Moon will more closely coincide with lunar perigee, so it will be the closest new supermoon of the year.

Another oddity of the heavens will occur on March 20, 2015 when the supermoon causes a total eclipse of the equinox sun. I’ll mark my calendar.

Two Origins of the Wolf Moon

The Full Wolf Moon, the first full moon of 2013, will be bright tonight (January 26) at 11:38 p.m. EST.

Many American Full Moon names come from Native American tribes of a few hundred years ago who lived in what is now the northern and eastern United States. Those tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring Full Moon, often based on what they were seeing in nature year after year.

Some tribes named the first moon of the year the Full Wolf Moon if they lived in an area where wolf packs might have howled hungrily outside their villages in the heart of winter. It is also called the Old Moon or the Moon after Yule.

But I did find other sources that say that Wolf Moon comes from the ancient Scottish Gaelic word for January, Faoilleach, which means “wolf month.”

Romancing the Bee

full wolf moon

The Full Wolf Moon, the first full moon of 2013, will light up the night sky tonight (Jan. 26) at 11:38 p.m. EST.

According the the Farmers Almanac, full moon names date back to Native American tribes of a few hundred years ago who lived in what is now the northern and eastern United States. Those tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon.

The Farmers Almanac states that Indians named the first moon of the year the Full Wolf Moon because of the wolf packs that howled hungrily outside their villages in the heart of winter.  It is also called the Old Moon or the Moon after Yule.

Other sources disagree and allege that “Full Wolf Moon” comes from the ancient Scottish Gaelic word for January, Faoilleach, which means “wolf month”.

Whatever the derivation, few would disagree that Full Wolf Moon is…

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