Over The Moon

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It has been orbiting the Earth for 4.5 billion years, the moon. It is difficult to contemplate all the living entities that have gazed upon  or have been influenced by this natural satellite. There are the tides of the oceans and  minimally the lakes, atmosphere and Earth’s crust. Flowers, such as the Evening Primrose, Night Bloom Lilies or the Moon Flower are but a few that depend on the moonlight to bloom.  We know that sea turtles use the moon to come on shore to lay their eggs. Sea turtle off-spring use the moon to find the sea. On the Australian Great Barrier Reef moonlight plays a significant role in  spontaneous spawning of coral.  Birds may navigate using the moon as Eagle Owls use the moon to tell them when to begin making their calls.” Ecologists Laura Prugh (University of Alaska Fairbanks) and Christopher Golden (Harvard) surveyed the behaviour of 59 nocturnal mammals, they found that most carnivores and insectivores became less active under the brightest Moon phases. Primates seemed to be the only group that was consistently more active under the full moon.”(aeon.co/essays/do-the-phases-of-the-moon-affect-human-behaviour) This supports every educators and ER doctor’s claim that a full moon often causes their classrooms and ERs to be more active.

The moon is the second brightest object in the sky, the sun being the first. The moon, however, emits no light. The moon’s light is reflected sunlight. The amount of reflected sunlight, referred to as a phase, is dependent on the movements of both the Earth and the moon. The moon has eight distinct phases that occur about every 29.5 days (monthly). We begin with:

  1. Image by Eric Teske (CC BY-NC 3.0)
    Image by Eric Teske (CC BY-NC 3.0)

    The New Moon. There is no reflected light. The moon is actually out during the day and down at night.

  2. The Waxing Crescent. Waxing means growing. Just after sunset we see a sliver of the moon, then it goes down. The sliver and time seen increases each night until the next phase.
  3. The Quarter Moon. At this time half of the moon is seen for half the night.
  4. Waxing Gibbous. Gibbous means hump. At this time the light appears to form a bulge and only a crescent of the moon cannot be seen. It stays up most of the night.
  5. The Full Moon.  We see the entire moon from sunset to just before sunrise.
  6. The Waning Gibbous. Waning means shrinking. The bulge is shrinking as is the time seen.
  7. The Last Quarter. We see half of the moon….the opposite half from the Quarter Moon.
  8. The Waning Crescent. Only a silver of the moon can be seen just before morning.
View from my bedroom window.
View from my bedroom window.

Full moons were given names by the people who observed and used them as predictors of life events. You will notice each month’s full moon is named for an activity that is expected to occur at that time.

  1. The Wolf Moon, Old Moon or Moon after the Yule is the first full moon in January.
  2. The Snow Moon, Quickening Moon or Hunger Moon shows itself in February.
  3. March brings the  Worm Moon or Sap Moon.
  4. The Pink Moon or Egg Moon shows itself in April.
  5. May brings the Flower or Milk Moon.
  6. The Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon or Honey Moon comes in June.
  7. The Buck or Thunder Moon is the July moon.
  8. August brings the Sturgeon, Red, Grain or Green Corn Moon
  9. September and October each have their own moons but which comes first depends on the year. The Harvest Moon is the moon closest to the autumnal equinox. During the Hunter’s Moon there is a very short period of darkness.
  10. The Beaver Moon or Mourning Moon shows itself in November.
  11. In December we have the Cold Moon.

A Blue Moon is speaking of a month when two full moons are seen in the same month. This happens once in about every twenty-seven years thus the saying,’Once in a Blue Moon’. A Black Moon occurs when there is no full moon in a month. When the full moon is the closest it will ever be to the Earth it is a Super Moon. A Wet Moon or Cheshire Moon occurs when the points of the crescent point away from the horizon as if to smile.

View from my living room window.
View from my living room window.

The moon has been and is still eagerly studied. We have at our finger tips a multitude of information.  All of it is very interesting but somehow cold compared to personally experiencing the moon in a steely night sky. For me each siting is unique and more beautiful than the last. When traveling I think of my family under the same moon hours earlier or later depending on which continent I am visiting. I am awed by its very existence and stoic beauty. It is a joy to wake in the middle of the night or early morning and find it peeking though your window. At times it baths the cat curled up on the bed or casts a shadow of the fifty year old Christmas Cactus on the wall. It gives me a healthy sense of myself…I am but a minute piece of this great plan called life on Earth. I find this comforting and reassuring somehow. Look to the moon for peace and beauty.





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