Moon Question of the Day

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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.

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Last 7 Days

Has the Moon always been the same distance from the Earth?

No. It is drifting away from us, but it is doing so very slowly. It will not be appreciably farther away for hundreds of millions of years.

Why don't eclipses occur every month?

If the Moon always moved on exactly the same path, and if that path crossed in front of the Sun, there would indeed be an eclipse every month--two of them, in fact, one of the Sun and one of the Moon. But the Moon's path is more complicated than that, and most months it passes above or below the Sun.

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".

Did something happen astronomically in 1962 that will not be repeated for 4,000 years?

In 1962 there was a Great Conjunction, or alignment of all the visible planets plus the Sun and Moon, along with a solar eclipse. Now that was unusual! Some sources mistakenly suggest that such a planetary alignment occurs only about every 4,000 to 6,000 years, which is not true.

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.

Has the Moon always been the same distance from the Earth?

No. It is drifting away from us, but it is doing so very slowly. It will not be appreciably farther away for hundreds of millions of years.

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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