Update: Photos of the full moon (Feb. 4, 2015) are at this earthsky.org site. The addition of Jupiter made the “Hunger Moon” even more impressive.
The Moon’s Pull
February’s full moon can be called “Snow Moon,” “Hunger Moon,” or probably many other labels.
Either way, for many of us, the moon has a certain pull–more than a tidal sway or a nursery rhyme playfulness. It has been surrounded by myths and speculation, but it is safe to say that you would weigh less there, you could not breathe there unaided, and you might see the “footsteps” of twelve humans who have visited there. Check here for more facts about the moon.
Full moons have the greatest allure. According to this Farmers’ Almanac article, “Full moon names date back to Native Americans.” Tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon–and the entire month.
Since the heaviest snow usually falls during February, some tribes called its full moon the Full Snow Moon–or the Full Hunger Moon. Conditions were harsh, hunting tough, and food scarce.
At other times of the year, blood moons might occur, and lunar eclipses have also spawned stories and legends–from increases in hospital visits to Lon Cheney-type werewolves.
For some of us, the moon has been a bit gentler. Growing up on a Midwest farm, I was able to see the moon’s phases play out over soybean sprouts in spring, behind migrating geese in the fall, and above sparkling ice-tinged trees in winter.
The moon played its role best in summertime. Its warm glow would flow over cattle moving quietly in the pasture and warm fog drifting along the creek. It would light our way on summer walks and, as we grew older, during teenage car rides along gravel roads. On occasion, it even flared up enough to “burn down the house across the road.”
Whatever the month, it might be worthwhile to turn off the TV, put down the smartphone, and walk out into the glow of the full moon. No matter what the ancient folks called it, the earth’s satellite is always “Magical.”
by dan gogerty (barn photo from washingtonpost.com)
Your donation to CAST helps support the CAST mission of communicating science to meet the challenge of producing enough food, fiber and fuel for a growing population. Every gift, no matter the size, is appreciated.