By the Light of the Moon

November 24, 2021 clifftop CliffNotes

Most of us take the moon for granted and pay little attention to its movements. After all, it is 238,900 (221,500-252,700) miles away. In reality the moon’s movements change daily, rising about 50 minutes later every day.  Sometimes it rises in the daytime and sometimes at night. It revolves around the earth every 27.3 days reflecting the sunlight. The moon’s gravitational pull slightly lengthens Earth’s day and is the main driver of tides.

The moon, as seen from Paul Wightman Subterranean Nature Preserve in Monroe County. Photo courtesy Susan Rick

We always see the same side of the moon with parts of it in the shadows. As it rotates around the earth it is illuminated from varying angles of the sun. We are familiar with the four primary phases of the moon; new moon, first quarter moon, full moon and last quarter moon.  Full moons occur every 29.53 days. The new moon is the start of the lunar cycle when the sun and the moon are closest together in the sky. The first quarter occurs when the moon has traveled one-fourth of the way through its orbit and half of the moon surface is illuminated. The full moon occurs when the sun and moon are furthest apart in the sky or on opposite sides of the earth. The last or third quarter moon occurs when the moon is three-fourths of the way through its orbit and half the surface is lit. Then there are, of course, four secondary phases; a complicated relationship for sure.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the full moon, earth and sun are fully aligned.  There is a partial lunar eclipse November 19 which will be visible in the predawn hours in North American. The eclipse begins at 12:02 AM and ends at 6:03 AM.

The November moon in North America is known as the Beaver Moon.  Not surprisingly, there is disagreement on the origins of the name.  Two theories are that the Native Americans set their beaver traps in November and the other is that the beavers were actively building their winter dams during November.

CLIFFTOP, a local nonprofit organization, is focused on preserving and protecting area blufflands.

A version of this article appeared in the November 17, 2021 edition of the Republic-Times.

©2021 all content rights reserved Clifftop NFP

Comments are currently closed.

Powered by WordPress and NatureFox.