Sunday, September 14, 2008

Look for the Harvest Moon: September 15th

On a clear night, we are blessed with a skyfull of stars here on the prairie, but the moon, no matter the phase, takes center stage. We love to watch the moon play its many roles as it crosses the night sky. When my baby brother was little, he coined the phrase "fingernail moon" to describe the the new moon, and that description was so perfect, we still call it that. And I will always cherish our loquacious two-year-old Jonathan many years ago (he's 17 now!) leaning up against me and whimpering, "I bumped my little yellow-moon head." (He really said that!) The moon isn't specifically about romance; it just inspires a special magical creativity, doesn't it?

Do you know the Indian names for the moon? There are twelve in all, from the strawberry moon in June to the Wolf moon in January. I am the most casual of skywatchers, but perhaps because I'm a night owl and because I so love this autumn season, I always look forward to spotting the harvest moon with particular expectation. Especially out here with the long lines of the horizon to the east of us, that big orange chinese lantern of a moon slipping up over our back twenty signals the real beginning of the fall festivities. It's really time to get the apple cider and unpack the sweaters. Our scarecrow, the venerable Jack-the-Haystack, will soon be making his 16th annual appearance out on the lawn furniture somewhere. The days are shorter, the air is crisper, and all is right with the world.

Because in Celtic tradition, September's moon is called the Singing Moon ~
James Last's version of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata...




Just For Fun

Here's a little MOon Trivia:
(Answers to the questions are at the bottom)

* The Earth's moon is the 5th largest in the entire solar system

* The size of the first moonboot footprint on the moon was 13" X 6".
1)Do you know whose foot it was?
2)Take a guess: right or left?
3) Do you know when the last moon landing took place?

* The average desktop computer contains 5-10 times more computing power than was used to land a man on the moon.

* Among the paraphernalia left on the moon is a gold-plated 33 rpm record left after the first moon landing, a number of golf balls, including the one hit by Alan Shepherd that landed about a half mile away from where it was hit. The moon is also the final resting place of the ashes of US geological scientist, Dr. Eugene Shoemaker.

(4) Extra points if you can guess what was on the gold record!

* If the moon were placed on the surface of the continental United States, it would extend from San Francisco to Cleveland (2,600 miles)

* The "Man in the Moon" is known as the "Toad in the Moon" in China.
5) Is it true or false that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure that can be seen from space?

* The moon can appear orange at any time; its occurrence can be due to the slant of light as the moon shines through the atmosphere or the presence of dust, smoke, or pollution in the air.

* Scientists still debate the exact cause for the illusion of the enormous moon that we see at the horizon. Because the humongous rising moon is an optical illusion, it's impossible to photograph. If you don't believe it, go out as the moon rises on Sept. 15th and see if you can capture it on your camera. Then go here to read the theories that prove why it can't be done.

* I only weigh about 27 lbs on the moon!
(Go here to see how much you weigh)

* Going 70 mph, it would take you 135 days to drive to the moon by car.
6) Does it take more or less than a minute for light to travel from the moon to the earth?

* The moon is not actually round! It's egg shaped with the large end pointed toward earth.
7) The volume of the moon is the about the same as the volume of which ocean?

* The New Moon always rises at sunrise and the first quarter at noon. The Full Moon always rises at sunset and the last quarter at midnight.

* The saying "once in a blue moon" is based on an astronomical phenomena in which a full moon occurs twice in one month. Our next blue moon will be in December, '09.
8) How long ago was the last blue moon?

*Contrary to popular opinion, the moon is not made of cheese, but you can go here for some fun moon food recipes to celebrate the Harvest Moon.

Answers:
1) Neil Armstrong's foot was the first to touch the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969.
2) It was his left foot
3) Gene Cernan was the last man to step on the moon in 1972.
4) The gold record contained the soundtrack to Camelot.
5) False. It can actually only be seen from a relatively low Earth orbit. Many other human structures, such as cities, highways and agricultural patterns, are also visible from the same height.
6) Less. In fact it takes less than half a second for light to travel from the moon to the Earth.
7) The volume of the moon is about the same as the volume of the Pacific Ocean.
8) The last blue moon was over two and a half years ago, in May of 2007.

**Check out my really great resource: Keith's Awesome Moon Page

3 comments:

GrandmaK said...

Well, my dear, again you have topped yourself! This is a wonderfully tender,informative and beautiful offering. Happy "Sunday" to you and yours and Thank you so very much!!! Cathy

Bia said...

I loved this post. We are a big moon family...we're forever traipsing outside to look at the moon through the trees in our backyard. And last night was no exception. We had wonderfully clear skies, so our little one and I (in our pj's) walked outside to marvel at the moon.

I loved all your moon trivia and will be sharing it with the family tonight. In fact, I may re-post a funny story about my Nonna and the moon.

Here's to "la bella luna"!

Aimee said...

Great post! Being a moon-gazer myself, I especially enjoyed all the Native American moon names. And I can't wait for the Harvest Moon, either. it's always been my favorite :)