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The Moon turns precisely full on June 9, 2017 at 13:10 Universal Time. This the farthest full moon  and so the smallest full moon of the year. I see it described by some unofficial terms such as micro-moon or mini-moon.

This June full moon occurs less than one day after reaching lunar apogee, the moon’s farthest point in its monthly orbit. The near alignment of full moon and lunar apogee team up to give us the farthest and smallest full moon of the year.

What do we mean by a “Moon shadow?”  I think a moon shadow is technically an Earth shadow. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth lines up directly between the sun and the moon, blocking the sun’s rays and casting a shadow on the Moon. As the Moon moves deeper and deeper into the Earth’s shadow, the Moon changes color before your very eyes, turning from gray to an orange or deep shade of red.

I’m not sure I really gave any thought to the term until I heard Cat Stevens’ song “Moonshadow”  back in 1971. When he sings “I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow. Leapin’ and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow,” I assume it is a shadow cast by a person or object from moonlight.

Ipomoea alba

Ipomoea alba

A plant classified as Ipomoea alba, is also called the tropical white morning-glory, moon flower or moon vine. It is interesting because it is a night-blooming plant. It is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the New World, from northern Argentina north to Mexico and Florida. This is the flower that is shown in the Japanese screen with this post. It certainly would be of interest to cats and humans as it hangs down like a small moon itself in the night.

There is also another plant that is a moon flower. The night-blooming cereus is the common name referring to a large number of flowering cacti that bloom at night. The flowers are short-lived, and some of these species, such as Selenicereus grandiflorus, intriguingly bloom only once a year, for a single night. I would love to see one of these bloom on the night of a Full Moon!

Night-blooming cereus

Night-blooming cereus

Other names for the June Full Moon include the Mead Moon (Medieval), Rose Moon (more common in Europe) and Thunder Moon. The most common name I see used for the June Full Moon is Strawberry Moon. As far as I can find, that name was used by every Algonquin tribe. The relatively short season for harvesting strawberries in June was a good nature sign for this Full Moon.

The Moon becomes full at the same instant worldwide, but we are more locked into clock times.  In Paradelle, it occurs at 9:10 a.m. EDT, but in North America (except for a bit of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands) we won’t be able to see the moon then because it will still be below the horizon.

I will see the Moon at its fullest just before moonset (around sunrise) today. As always, it looked pretty full to the eye last night and again tomorrow.

That bright “star” near tonight’s moon isn’t a star. It is Saturn.

Today – April 26, 2017 – is the first supermoon this year, but there is no Full Moon tonight. Can a New Moon be a supermoon? Yes.

Rather than a full supermoon, this is a new supermoon. It will happen again May 25 (the most “super of the year) and June 24.

As I have said before, a supermoon isn’t an astronomical term but a popular term to mark when the Moon is nearest to the Earth (perigee).

By a commonly accepted definition, to be a supermoon it has to come within 225,027 miles (362,146 km) of Earth. and that happens every few months. Besides the three Super New Moons, there will also be s Super Full Moon in December. After that, the following full moons on January 2 and 31, 2018, count as supermoons, too. Additionally, some will call the full moon on January 31, 2018 a Blue Moon.

Here is the caveat for this celestial event: Since you can’t really see a New Moon, you can’t see a  super one either. The Moon will be in the glare of the sun all day long and will rise and set with the Sun.

You will see the Moon’s impact with higher-than-usual tides since all New and Full Moons create bigger tides and perigee makes them even higher. We sometimes hear them referred to as “spring tides.”

Higher spring tides are one way to “see” the New Supermoon. – Photo: Manasquan Inlet, New Jersey (Wikimedia)

As much as we associate the Moon with night, you certainly have seen it during the daytime.

Yesterday, the Moon was in a waning gibbous phase and I saw it in the light of morning. During this phase, it rises in the east later than it did the night before and it will rise later and later each evening. That means you can catch the daytime moon over your western horizon after sunrise now.

The daytime moon is a nice reminder that or favorite natural satellite is up there much of the time. It is pretty pale against the blue sky, so not as noticeable as at night. Our Moon is there during the day half the time since it orbits the entire Earth once a month. It is difficult to see the crescent moon in the daytime because it is near the sun in the sky.

We always notice the Full Moon that stays out all night long, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. Following Full Moons (the last one was Tuesday) the waning gibbous moon is rising later each night and setting in the west later each day after sunrise.

Our Moon is always up there and one half is always illuminated by sunlight and the nighttime half is in its own shadow, even though we don’t always see that.

I post a lot about the Moon and I’m hardly alone in being fascinated by it. You may have an astronomical interest in it, or maybe a more Romantic interest. Either way, you probably only think of the view of the Moon from Earth and not the other way.

Right now we are in the last quarter phase when we see half the moon’s day side, and half its night side. I recently discovered that the shadow line dividing day from night is called the lunar terminator.

Here’s another way to view the moon, if only theoretically. If you were on the moon now while it is in its last quarter phase, as it is today, and you were looking back at Earth, you’d see the Earth at its first quarter phase.

Perhaps some day, a lunar-living blogger will post regularly about the phases of the Earth.

 

firts-quarter-earth

As seen from the moon, the terminator on the first quarter Earth depicts sunrise, as the first quarter Earth waxes toward its full phase.

 

Tonight, shortly after sunset (4:40 ET), look for the sliver of the waxing crescent moon. From mid-northern latitudes, the illuminated points direct you to the setting sun and to Saturn. The planet is between the sunset and moon and from there it will follow the sun below the horizon before nightfall. It will do its own setting about an hour after sunset and will be very difficult to see in the glare of evening twilight.

double moon hoaxThe 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.

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