Friday, October 26, 2007

October 26 2007 - Hunter's moon

Like the harvest moon we had last month, tonight's full moon occurs close to sunset. So as long as we do not have thick cloud cover, people can continue to go about their business by moonlight without any long period of darkness. At this time of year, hunters in particular use the light of this moon to pursue migrating geese. They can also ride out across the cleared fields to catch the fox, which itself is hunting the small mammals who are gleaning food from the fields. And finally they can more eaily see deer in the forest now thatthe leaves have fallen. And that's why October's full moon is known as the Hunter's Moon.

If you look at the moon shortly after it rises, it appears larger and yellower than if you view it when it is higher in the sky. This is true of all full moons (and crescent moons, planets, constellations and anything you look at in the sky). But you are more likely to be looking at a harvest or hunter's moon at moonrise because this occurs at such a convenient time, around sunset. The arc the moon follows at this time of year is shallower than at other times of year so it never climbs really high in the sky. That's why people say these two moons are larger and yellower than other moons.

At any rate, it is a beautiful sight. Try to see it, if you can.

9 comments:

Chile said...

The moon was still gorgeous in the early morning when we walked our dog. She would have like to use the moonlight to hunt cats. ;-)

Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank said...

I've never bothered to pay attention to the phases of the moon very much, but last night, coming home around 1am, I was startled to realize how bright my back porch was without any lights on.

I don't know how differently the moon looks to us on the West Coast of the U.S. compared with you there in England because I don't know enough about astronomy or whatever other science is involved in understanding earth rotation and moon phases. I'll just say, it was freakin' bright last night!

Melanie Rimmer said...

Beth, it looks the same. Pick up an imaginary tennis ball in your right hand, and hold it in the air. I mean it. Do it. Now. OK, that's the earth. Now pick up an imaginary boiled sweet in your left hand. That's the moon. The moon goes round the earth once every 29 days (or so). So make the boiled sweet go around the tennis ball slowly. Done that a couple of times? OK. But the earth also spins around on its own axis once a day. So twiddle your fingers and make the tennis ball rotate on the spot faster than the boiled sweet is orbiting. Don't worry, you can't drop it, it's only imaginary.

The phase of the moon (whether it's full, a half circle, a crescent etc.) depends on where the boiled sweet is in its orbit. If it's far on your left, it's full, like last night. When it's far on your right it's new (that means you can't see it). Half way in between, and it's a half circle. You can figure out the rest.

Imagine a dot on your tennis ball representing your location on earth. Imagine another dot on the other side representing me here in the UK. You can see that we both see the same moon in a given night. If the moon is all the way over on your left (i.e. it's full), it stays there a little while because it's going around the earth quite slowly. When your dot on the tennis ball is facing left, you can see the full moon from where you are. The tennis ball is spinning pretty fast, so a few hours later my dot is pointing left and I can see the same phase of the moon you saw.

It was beautiful last night, wasn't it? Over the next week it will start to wane, like a squashed orange it will get less and less of a circle each night (that's called the gibbous phase). One week from now it will be a half circle, like a filled-in letter C. It will then wane to a crescent and in two weeks' time it will be new (i.e. gone). And then it will appear again on the other side, like a letter D without the vertical stroke, and will gradually wax to a filled in D in three weeks' time. Then it will be gibbous again (not quite a circle) for week. And it will be full again in 4 weeks. Will you watch it?

TopVeg said...

Thank you for an interesting post - I always look out for the harvest moon - because the weather on that day is supposed to stay the same for a few weeks. Always inportant to farmers who are hoping their newly sown crops will grow.
I did not know about the hunter's moon - but did notice that it was much bigger!
TopVeg

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