Question of the Day

Has anyone else seen a Moon rainbow? If so, are they common?

The lunary rainbow, seldom seen, is usually observable soon after dark, following a brief summer storm or shower, when the Moon is nearly full.

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Last 7 Days

What was America's biggest pig?

The record probably belongs to Big Bill, a Poland China hog from Tennessee that weighed a stunning 2,552 pounds and measured 9 feet long. (His belly dragged on the ground.) At his demise, this little piggy didn't go to market. Instead, he was stuffed, mounted, and displayed.

Before gravity was understood, what did the ancients think caused tides?

Some people explained the motion of the planets by assuming that the planets were being pushed by angels. The same may have been true for tides. In other words, the explanation was found in supernatural forces. Since the Mediterranean Sea is very little affected by the tides, the ancient Greeks and Romans paid very little attention to it. Plutarch and Aristotle recognized the Moon as the cause of the tides, without understand gravitational pull. Pliny believed that the Moon had an attraction which caused the tides. Other scientists, like Ptolemy, settled just for a description without searching for a cause.

I know why the colors of a rainbow refract in the order they do (ROYGBIV), but why do rainbows bend, and why is red always on the bottom? Also, is there really an end of a rainbow (with a pot of gold)?

The first definition of a rainbow (by Descartes) was based on tracing the path of a light ray falling on a transparent sphere. If the Sun is at the horizon, the rainbow is an arc of 180 degrees, but it cannot appear if the Sun is high in the sky. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (ROYGBIV) are the colors of a rainbow, but these are not necessarily the sequence of colors an observer sees. Since the color sequence of a rainbow is the result of refraction, the color order depends on the viewer's angle of perception. As for the end of a rainbow, it seems always to elude us. However, here at The Old Farmer's Almanac, we firmly believe that there's a pot of gold waiting for the person lucky enough to find a rainbow's end.

In south Texas, I saw the largest ring around the Moon I've ever seen. Why so big and does it predict weather?

The ring around the Moon (and sometimes the Sun) is called a halo. The most common halos are caused by hexagonal ice prisms where the light enters and exits through one of the side faces and the halos have a diameter of 44 degrees. A quite rare form of halo is produced by cubic ice crystal or by hexagonal ice prisms where the light goes through the end faces of the prism and this halo has an diameter of 92 degrees. I am sure you saw this 92 degree halo in that clear Texan night-a rare event. In 60 years of observing the nigh sky, I have only seen this twice. As far as I know, it has no weather prognosticating indications.

What is the best way to raise indentations caused by furniture legs in carpeting?

Our local expert (Earl Proulx from Yankee Magazine) offers two methods: (1) Place an ice cube in each dent and allow it to melt. While the carpet is still damp, use your fingers to fluff up the fibers. Then allow it to dry. If these are very deep dents, you may have to repeat the process. (2) Use a steam iron to steam the indented area for a minute or two, then fluff the fibers with a comb. If the carpet is synthetic, avoid touching the hot iron to the carpet fibers. When you replace your furniture, try to avoid putting the legs back in the same spots.

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 is tahini, where can I find it, and can I make it myself or substitute something for it?

Tahini is sesame seed paste and is used primarily in Middle Eastern cooking. You should be able to find it in the international section of a large grocery store. You can also make it yourself with a large amount of toasted sesame seeds and some oil. Put the toasted seeds into a food processor and stream in the oil until you achieve a desirable consistency. A close substitute in flavor is peanut butter, so you might try experimenting with that as well.

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