Moon Question of the Day

Does the Moon rise and set as the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west? The enormous full Moon always takes me by surprise, and I'd love to get some shots of a big yellow Moon. Is it possible to predict the dates and times when the Moon will appear largest over the horizon?

Basically, the Moon rises in the east and sets in the west, but its path varies during the month because its orbit is elliptical. However, you will never see a rising Moon in the west or a setting Moon in the east. The time to see a huge Moon is in its full phase and when it is close to the horizon. If you check the right-hand calendar pages in the print Almanac, you will see the notation "Moon runs low"; this is when it is closest to the horizon. Check the date for each such notation, then check the left-hand calendar page for the Moon's phase and the time of its rising and setting for that date.

Last 7 Days

    Who were the Roman and Greek goddesses of the Moon and the sea?

    Diana was the Roman goddess of the Moon. She was a "multipurpose" goddess, presiding over the hunt and childbirth, among other things. In her incarnation as Moon goddess, she was known as Luna. Artemis was the Greek goddess of the Moon. Gods, not goddesses, ruled the sea -- Neptune in Roman mythology and Poseidon in Greek.

    Is there such a thing as "Moon weather"?

    Country wisdom says that the full Moon brings frosts in spring and fall and periods of extreme cold in winter. Researchers have found a striking correlation between the full Moon and cloudiness, rainfall and thunderstorms.

    Is there a rhyme about the color of the Moon and how this color can foretell the weather?

    There are several, but the one most familiar to us is "Pale Moon doth rain, red Moon doth blow, white Moon doth neither rain nor snow".

    What have our astronauts left behind on the surface of the Moon?

    Well, there's quite an inventory. Of course, there's the American flag, left by the first visitor, Neil Armstrong. The first Apollo landing crew also left a commemorative plaque. The remains of seven unmanned lunar probes, Surveyors 1 through 7, are there, plus three lunar rovers. There are six long-term scientific stations on the Moon, which include seismometers to measure tremors in the Moon's crust and some reflectors to bounce back light beams that we send up there. The Russians left several unmanned probes and assorted lunar rovers on the Moon as well.

    Where did the names of the days of the week come from?

    The Babylonians named the days after the five planetary bodies known to them (Tuesday through Saturday) and after the Sun and Moon (Sunday and Monday). This custom was later adopted by the Romans. Emperor Constantine established the seven-day week in the Roman calendar in 321 and designated Sunday and Monday as the first two days of the week. The other weekday names in English are derived from Anglo-Saxon names for gods in Teutonic mythology. Tuesday comes from Tiu, or Tiw, the Anglo-Saxon name for Tyr, the Norse god of war. Tyr was one of the sons of Odin, or Woden, the supreme deity after whom Wednesday is named. Similarly, Thursday originates from Thor, the god of thunder. Friday is derived from Frigga, the wife of Odin, representing love and beauty.

    What is a "Catfish Moon"?

    We couldn't find specific information on a Catfish Moon. However, in colonial America, the full Moon of March was called the Fish Moon. This probably had something to do with the beginning of fish spawning season along the eastern coast of the United States. Old catfishermen believed the best time to fish was three days before a full Moon to three days after a full Moon. They also believed that the day of the new Moon (the dark of the Moon) was a good time to fish for catfish. Not that you asked, but we did discover a play entitled "Catfish Moon," written by Laddy Sartin, and an Australian blues band of the same name.

    What would happen if Earth's rotation started to slow down?

    Earth is already slowing down and has been doing so for billions of years. At the present time, our planet is slowing down by about .002 second per century. The slowing occurs mainly because of friction between solid earth and ocean tides. Earth's loss of rotational energy is transferred to the Moon, which goes into a wider orbit, thus lengthening the time between successive full Moons.

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