Moon Question of the Day

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I've heard that if you cut your hair on a full Moon, your hair grows healthier and faster. Is this true?

According to folklore, if hair is cut during the Moon's waxing phase (between new and full), growth is encouraged. The opposite will occur if hair is cut during the waning phase (the day after the Moon is full to the day before it's new).

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Last 7 Days

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.

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 does neaped mean in reference to a ship?

A boat that is neaped has gone aground on a mild tide and needs a spring tide or stormy waters to float it off. The boat is only barely aground, as opposed to being hard aground, where even a very high tide or rough waters might not be enough to set it free. The expression comes from the term "neap tide," which is a moderate tide. Neap tides occur when Earth, Moon, and Sun are in quadrature. In other words, instead of being lined up in a straight line, as at syzygy, they are more nearly at right angles. True quadrature happens at regular intervals, about twice a month, at the first quarter and last quarter Moons, but neap tides occur for several days around those dates. Take a look at the tides on the right-hand calendar pages of The Old Farmer's Almanac, and you'll notice that high tides are considerably higher around the full Moon and new Moon than around the first and last quarters.

What and when is the feminine side of the Moon?

The Moon has neither a feminine nor a masculine side. Your idea probably comes from the popular interpretation of the Moon's surface features, as seen with the naked eye, as the "Man in the Moon." In modern scientific English, the Sun and the Moon are each spoken of as "it"; only in poetic language is the Sun "he" and the Moon "she." As far as we know, in all other western languages, including scientific use, the Sun is masculine and the Moon is feminine. The interesting exception is German, in which the word Moon uses a masculine article and Sun uses a feminine article.

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. Saturday comes from Saturn, the ancient Roman god of fun and feasting.

What do the phrases "Moon rides high" and "Moon runs low" in the Almanac mean?

As the equator wraps around Earth, so the celestial equator wraps around the sky. It runs in an arc from east to west, passing low in the south; the farther north one stands, the lower it passes. When the Moon runs low in the sky, it is the farthest beneath this equator. If you live sufficiently far north, it will never rise above the horizon at night. Similarly, the Moon will be unusually high in the sky when it rides high.

Is the temperature colder during a full Moon?

Air temperature is not affected by Moon phase. It is affected by the season and whether there is a cloud cover, among other things. On a clear night, heat rises from Earth if there is no cloud cover holding it in. This might make you think it's colder because there is a full Moon, but it's really colder just because the sky is clear.

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