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Sunday, 11 October 2020

Moon

The phases of the Moon viewed looking southward from the Northern Hemisphere (Orion8, Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier this month, Sue in Suffolk mentioned on her blog that there are two full moons in October this year. The first was on the first: the Harvest Moon. I like her posts about country ways and the natural world. She even provides a link to a moon calendar in her sidebar.

Two or three days later, we were taking Mrs. D.’s new Fitbit out for an evening walk. She commented how white and bright the moon looked but that it did not seem quite full. I was able to respond that the full moon had been on the first of the month – “the Harvest Moon,” I said knowledgeably – and that there would be two full moons in October this year.

There ensued a discussion about how you could tell whether a moon was new or old, whether a J-shaped moon came before the full one and a C-shape after, or whether it was the other way round. It turns out to be JC in the Northern Hemisphere, which seems easy enough to remember.

How on earth have I got this far without knowing that?

Diaries always used to contain little symbols for the phases of the moon: ☽ ☾ and for first quarter, full, last quarter and new (assuming your browser renders these symbols correctly). There are none in my present diary (I still use a paper one), nor on the kitchen calendar. A diary from 2000 does not have them either. I had to look back to one of my father’s from 1986. 

Needless to say, I never paid them much attention. At one time it would have been one of the most important things you needed to be aware of for planning work outside. 

 

45 comments:

  1. Yes, Sue is good at keeping us up to date with all country matters too. My son keeps me up to daye with all things 'heavenly' as he is into astronomy. At the moment mars (the red planet) is very visible in the East and is indeed slightly tinged with red. I saw it the other night between the cloudy bits.

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    1. I saw on the tv news about Mars being visible. Looks as if it might be cloudy tonight here, but we might get a chance to see it before the week is through.

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  2. The "J-shaped moon" as you call it is known as "the waxing moon" because it increases in size as the month goes on and eventually becomes full. The "C-shaped moon" is called "the waning moon" because it decreases in size down from the full moon and eventually leads to "the Dark Moon" when it is not visible. In Goddess spirituality, the three aspects of the Divine Feminine are reflected in the moon phases -- Maiden (waxing moon), Mother (full moon) and Crone (waning moon). The dark moon is sacred to Hecate, Queen of the Witches.

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    1. I feel rather frightened now. Thank goodness Halloween will have a full moon this year.

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    2. Since the dark moon is sacred to Hecate, Hecate wills that Debra write a haiku on the subject. Here are two by Kobayashi Issa (translated by Robert Hass) to get you started.

      Under the evening moon
      the snail
      is stripped to the waist.

      Full moon:
      my ramshackle hut
      is what it is.

      Issa saw that the young had so much fun they didn't need poetry.

      Children imitating cormorants
      are even more wonderful
      than cormorants.

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  3. Thanks for the helpful hint about the JC moons. I should be able to remember that easily enough đŸ˜‰

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  4. Did you know that a pussycat once married an owl and after the ceremony they danced on a beach by the light of the moon? Before electric lights, people would have been far more aware of the phases of the moon.

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    1. It must have been a long time ago. These days they would have floodlights, a barbecue and space heaters.

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  5. It used to be important to know the phases of the moon for planting, too.

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    1. In my own garden I've never considered the idea that the phases of the moon affect seed germination and plant growth. Perhaps I should. I rely mainly on gut feeling and the calendar.

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    2. We had a Moon calendar/planting diary once but the problem was that the weather didn't cooperate.

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  6. I have always been fascinated by the phases of the moon although I will admit to getting the waxing and waning confused. The chart you have shown here is helpful. I enjoy Sue's posts on the seasons too.

    I also use a paper diary and I just checked it and there are no moon symbols. If I remember correctly you can still get diaries and calendars with the moon phases but there are not as many available as there used to be.

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    1. The chart is from Wikipedia. I suspect that at one time every calendar, diary amd almanack would have had lunar details, tides as well, but so many of us are so distanced from the natural world now it seems that most publishers think them superfluous.

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  7. My new Collins wall calendar 2021 has the Full Moon and New Moon symbols. I wouldn't like to have a calendar that doesn't have them.

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    1. Me too, now - you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. I already have next year's so will have to rely on Sue.

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  8. I don't have any moon symbols on my wall calendar. I don't think that I have seen anything like printed that for some time.

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    1. Rachel (previous comment) has them but it sounds like she is in a minority.

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  9. I learned to identify the waxing or waning moon by the rhyme: When the moon is facing east, it is rising to feast. When the moon is facing west, it is going to rest. East or west is where its pointed side faces. I impressed a grandchild or two with this bit of trivia.

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    1. You've impressed me too, but I need another rhyme to explain which way it is facing.

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  10. The only poem I can remember is 'The Owl and the Pussycat' as well dancing by the light of the moon. The moon is often obscured by the trees round here and definitely dances as the wind blows but I shall remember the JC as well as - To spring forward and to fall backward - for the moving of the hour.

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    1. I had you down as being similar to Sue, always having knowing about the moon and natural things, so am surprised you need the JC reminder, but pleased to hear it is of use. I also use the spring/fall mnemonic but nevertheless still have to think about "if it's seven o'clock today what will it be tomorrow and what time will it get dark?"

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  11. Thank you for the mention! it's good to know people like the country sayings posts.

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    1. I certainly do, as does Weaver in the first comment above.

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  12. I love the chart at the top of the post as much as I love the words waxing, waning, crescent, and gibbous. I love that New Orleans, Louisiana, is called “The Crescent City” because of the path the Mississippi River mallee through it. And I suddenly hear my father’s voice saying, “You may like those things a lot but you don’t love them. You can’t love something that can’t love you back.” I bet you didn’t realize your post was so evocative. Well, to me at least., anyway.

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  13. Replies
    1. The chart is from Wikipedia as acknowledged, but I *adore* it too. The more you look at it the more it reveals - e.g. the perpendicular moves with the tilting of the earth as shown by the coloured area top right.

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  14. Of course now I had to check my diary - an A5 sized book - for moon symbols, and am pleased to report that it shows the symbol for the current moon phase every Friday.
    From my blog, it is not hard to guess that I am endlessly fascinated by the sky - no matter what weather, time of day or year - and have sometimes tried to photograph a particularly beautiful moon, without much success.

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    1. You'll be checking them and looking up at the sky for at least the next few years now. Sorry! We've been waiting to see Mars which is said to be very bright at the moment, but the last few nights have been cloudy.

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  15. Interesting. I didn't know that there were two full moons this month. I have just looked in my diaries and there are no symbols. I suspect it's because few people use them but, more commercially, diaries can now be printed the same and used worldwide. Calendars are different because they are so often bought to send to far away places so the moon table would be limiting or pointless.

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    1. I think, though, that publishers would need only two versions, one for the northern hemisphere and one for the southern. The periodicities would be the same but I think the old and new moons are the other way up in the southern hemisphere, so they appear CJ instead of JC. Someone please correct me if this is wrong.

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  16. Some years I've planted by the phases of the moon (marked with a little circle in my small £1 diary). Generally you plant in a waxing moon and weed when it is waning. Does it work? I would like to think so but really I've not got a clue!

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    1. You can't have an experimental control group can you, so it's a bit like health effects - you need years of data to be able to say statistically whether one thing is better than another.

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  17. The moon is Levantine.
    It settles its pearl in every glass of wine.

    Clair de Lune
    Anthony Hecht

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    1. Wrong, you can see it from everywhere on earth, not just the Eastern Mediterranean.

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    2. Poetic licence. He is seeing the moon through the lens of his reading. Think of Said's book *Orientalism*.

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    3. Much too intellectual for me. One of the most recent books I wrote about was Peyton Place.

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    4. You are one of those very bright blokes what pretend to be simple. I enjoyed many a drugstore novel myself, including Peyton Place. My father wouldn't allow us to watch the TV series. Sinatra met Mia Farrow on the Peyton set, he was making Von Ryan's Express on the next lot.

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    5. It's on YouTube. Going by the half-a-show I watched, the book is a better laugh. Lots of moonlight shots, though.

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    6. Thanks, Tasker. I'll check into the Peyton Place Motel soon.

      Last time I viewed (the Old Man was working late) was back when Richard Kimble spotted the one-armed man in Chicago Heights.

      I liked Dorothy Malone. Weren't she the gal in the bookstore in The Big Sleep, the one who took off her glasses, shook down her hair, and gave Bogie quite a thrill? She must have read Tropic of Cancer.
      As Hemingway said, *Henry Miller once got laid in the afternoon, and thinks he invented it.*

      Great drugstore novelists would include James M Cain, Ross McDonald, Patricia Highsmith, and Ed McBain. McBain wrote novels under the name Evan Hunter, *Streets of Gold* being the story of a blind jazz pianist rather like London-born George Shearing.

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    7. How many arms do you have? Must be more than one to turn all those the pages. Are you a fugitive too?

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    8. The one-armed man may have been an Interdimensional Entity (we can hardly say a person) of a diabolical nature. Richard Kimble may have been Lord Aramu Muru, the Peruvian Priest, who in flight from the murderous Spanish Conquistadors, inserted a gold disc in the rockface of Puerta de Hayu Marca, and passed through a Dimensional Portal into another galaxy: Peru's Stargate.


      You do the math, Tasker. Didn't ye study quantum mechanics?
      Alternatively, watch YouTube: Interdimensional Gateway of Lord Aramu Muru. I am in the small gathering, come to pay tribute.

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  18. I've always felt I don't know enough about the phases of the moon. Generally I refer to the waxing and waning and Gibbous was new to me until a few years ago. I can watch the moon rising from the back of the house and follow it as it travels across the trees. I love to see the huge orange 'super' moons in particular. You've given me an idea for an exercise!

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    1. Sue in Suffolk is the go to blog for this. We finally spotted Mars when the clouds cleared a couple of nights ago.

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