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Moon Question of the Day

How did the special names that we give some of the Moons, such as the Hunter's Moon, begin?

Historically, the Native Americans of the northern and eastern United States kept track of the seasons by giving a distinctive name to each full Moon. With some variation, the same names were used throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. These remain the full Moon names we use today.

Last 7 Days

    Can you please tell me where I should go to see the "horns" of the Moon pointing up?

    Around 18 to 28 degrees north latitude, the horns of the Moon at times point directly up. This happens just after sunset in the west, near the horizon, for a waxing Moon and just before sunrise in the east, near the horizon, for a waning moon. The same is true at around 18 to 28 degrees south latitude--just exchange east and west. A beautiful picture of the Moon with its horns pointing upward (but not straight up) is visible over a much wider area. In the United States, southern Florida is a great place to see this.

    Can you please tell me where I should go to see the "horns" of the Moon pointing up?

    Around 18 to 28 degrees north latitude, the horns of the Moon at times point directly up. This happens just after sunset in the west, near the horizon, for a waxing Moon and just before sunrise in the east, near the horizon, for a waning moon. The same is true at around 18 to 28 degrees south latitude--just exchange east and west. A beautiful picture of the Moon with its horns pointing upward (but not straight up) is visible over a much wider area. In the United States, southern Florida is a great place to see this.

    According to the Moon, when should you cut your hair to make it grow faster?

    During the waxing phase -- that is, when the Moon is between new and full.

    Why does the Moon not rotate around its own axis?

    The Moon does rotate on its own axis. It does this once every 29-1/2 days -- the same time it takes for it to complete its journey around Earth. The Moon rotates at about ten miles per hour at its equator.

    What causes the distance from Earth to the Moon to vary?

    The celestial mechanics of the Moon's motion are very complex. When the distance to the Moon is measured at different times of the month, it is found to vary by more than 10 percent because the Moon's orbit is basically an ellipse, with Earth at one focus. The Moon may come as close as 356,334 kilometers (220,927 miles) to Earth's center and then move as far away from it as 406,610 kilometers (252,098 miles). The dates when the Moon is at apogee (the point in its orbit farthest from Earth) and perigee (the point in its orbit closest to Earth) can be found on each month's calendar page in The Old Farmer's Almanac. However, to understand the "mechanics," as mentioned above, we recommend consulting a basic astronomy textbook.

    I am interested in any folklore concerning marriage and the Moon.

    The ancient Greeks believed that marriages consummated during the full Moon were the most prosperous and happiest, but a waning Moon boded ill for wedded bliss. The full Moon is also considered to be an ideal time to accept a marriage proposal. Folklore has it that if a young woman sees a dove and the new Moon at the same instant, she should say, "Bright Moon, clear Moon, / Bright and fair, / Lift up your right foot, / There'll be a hair." When she removes her shoe, she'll find a hair that is the same color as her future husband's.

    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.


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