“The Old Woman Who Never Dies”

 

On a clear night, the night sky is a wonder to behold and there is no admission fee for sky watching.

 

There is one object in the sky that has drawn the attention of many people since time began and that is the moon.  The Sioux tribes called the moon, “The Old Woman Who Never Dies”. 

 

Meteorologists often let us know when there is a lunar eclipse, a meteor shower, or other event of interest in the night sky but one of the best ways to enjoy the night sky is just to look upward.  There is nothing quite like taking a walk in the moonlight underneath an umbrella of stars or camping out below the stars on a blanket on the ground. 

 

The moon seems to elicit all kinds of thoughts from the scientific to the romantic.  We can think of everything from the children’s nursery rhyme that states, “The cow jumped over the moon”, to the mellifluous song “Moon River”.  Most of all, we seem to enjoy the brilliance and beauty of the full moon.

 

The Harvest Moon often comes to mind as the one that seems to shine brighter and larger than the other full moons. Yet, scientists tell us that when the moon seems to appear very large on the horizon that it is just an illusion.  Illusion or not, it is quite a beautiful sight to behold. 

 

Sometimes the moon as it first comes up on the horizon appears to be bright red or orange but the moon does not change colors.  The color has to do with the amount of dust in the earth’s atmosphere. 

 

The Harvest Moon is so named because for many years farmers took advantage of the moon lit nights to gather in their crops in the fall of the year.  A full Harvest Moon was a great deal of help to farmers before the advent of farm machinery with lights.  

 

To determine when The Harvest Moon will appear, it is always the full moon that is closest to the autumn equinox.  The equinox this year happens on September 22, 2004, at 12:30 EDT.  That means that the full moon will appear this year on September 28th.

 

The Harvest Moon is not the only full moon that has been given a name.  Many of the names date back to the American Indians.  Before there were calendars, time could be counted by how many moons had passed. 

 

The names given mainly coincide with a characteristic of the month in which it appears.  February is the only month that sometimes does not have a full moon due to the shorter number of days in the month.  Although, some full moons have been called by more than one name, I have only included the ones most commonly used:

 

Dates and names:

 

2004

September 28…………………………………………………………Harvest Moon

October 27………………………………………………………………Hunter’s Moon

November 26…………………………………………………………..Beaver Moon

December 26…………………………………………………………..Cold Moon

 

2005

January 25……………………………………………………………….Wolf Moon

February 24……………………………………………………………..Snow Moon

March 25…………………………………………………………………..Worm Moon

April 24………………………………………………………………………Pink Moon

May 23………………………………………………………………………..Flower Moon

June 22………………………………………………………………………Strawberry Moon

July 21………………………………………………………………………..Thunder Moon

August 19…………………………………………………………………..Sturgeon Moon

 

 

Another name we sometimes hear mentioned is a “blue moon”.   I recently heard someone say that they only took a trip “once in a blue moon”.    I know that the expression means something that a person does not do very often but I decided to see just how often a blue moon occurs.  I discovered that the term “blue moon” is given to the second full moon that appears within the same calendar month.   The last blue moon occurred just this past July because we had two full moons that month.  The next blue moon will not happen until June of 2007, so now is the time to procrastinate if you wish to use the blue moon as an excuse.  As for me, I only wash windows “once in a blue moon”.  I think that the dust on my windows would probably be given at least an SPF rating of 15.  That’s better than a lot of tanning lotions so I shouldn’t have to worry about those dangerous UV sunrays! 

 

At any rate, whether it is a blue moon or a harvest moon, don’t forget to watch for “The Old Woman Who Never Dies”.

 

By

Pamela R. Blaine

August 2004