Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shine On, Harvest Moon


How like a queen comes forth the lonely moon
From the slow opening curtains of the clouds
Walking in beauty to her midnight throne.
~ George Croley
(Irish poet, 1780-1860)

Did you know there are Indian names for the moon? There are twelve in all  (Right? One for each month! Teehee!), from the strawberry moon in June to the Wolf moon in January. I'm a casual astronomer, at best, but perhaps because I'm a night owl and because I love fall, I  tingle with excitement at the news of the harvest moon's appearance every year. Especially here in Colorado with our humongous skyscapes, that big ole orange moon takes center stage, slipping up over the Raggedy Mountains to the east of us .  Like an opening night banner, it signals the beginning of fall. Time to get the apple cider mulling; time to unpack the sweaters; time to prime the furnaces.

 Our scarecrow, the venerable Jack-the-Haystack, has already joined us out on the porch and fall decorations festoon the house, inside and our. After the heat of the summer -- and a weirdly wet early September -- the air is tinging toward crisp and cool, the geese are heading south, the days are getting shorter, Starbux is selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes --  and all is right with the world.

I have to include a couple Musical Accompaniments for tonight's unveiling, of course, since  in Celtic tradition, September's moon is called the Singing Moon ~
First, the sublime: James Last's version of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata...

(Second Musical Offering Below)

Just For Fun

Here's a little MOon Trivia:
(Answers to the questions scattered throughout 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

The Riduculous:

Ollie and Stanley, gotta love 'em!

* Pics of autumn decorations coming soon!

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