Moon watching

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2021

By Jo Weaver

“By the light of the silvery moon….” I have been in love with moonlight for decades. I loved to see the shadows cast by trees in the light of a full, or nearly full moon. The ground could be so clearly lit, walking the land was easy. I loved it.

When I was able to move back to the country full time as an adult and be less affected by light pollution, I learned some interesting things:

  • An easy way to tell if the moon is waxing (getting bigger) or waning (getting smaller) is to hold one’s hands up, making roughly a circle using the thumbs and pointer fingers. If the round side of the moon (as opposed to the part “being cut off”) is on the right, more closely matching the right hand, the moon is waxing. If the round side of the moon (as opposed to the part “being cut off”) is on the left, more closely matching the left hand, then the moon is waning.
  • Waxing moons rise earlier in the evening, and waning moons rise later in the night. And then there’s the new moon when the moon “fails to appear” as the earth blocks the light from the sun onto the moon.
  • The apparent movement of the moon and sun in our sky go in opposite directions. As the sun appears more northern in its path; the moon appears more southern. As the moon’s path comes up in our night sky, the sun appears to be crossing lower, more in line with our southern horizon.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

And so it goes, month after month, year after year.

  • With the ability to track both the shape, timing and path of my beloved moon, there came a predictability about it that I greatly appreciated. Moon calendars date back thousands of years. Moon cycles would have been easier to discern just by the length of them. And that cycle was used to mark time. We have even kept a remnant of it in modern times. The phrase, “Once in a blue moon” refers to something that rarely happens. Since a blue moon happens when there in a second full moon in a month, roughly every 2 ½ years or so, we get a clearer picture.
  • My love affair with the moon has continued. I love to sit in its light and will move my position to make that happen. I still love to see the shadows of the trees and being able to move around without the need for artificial light. I love to see the sliver of a crescent moon after the new moon. Moon watching.