Harvest or Hunter’s Moon?

Clip Art by George Reed. Used with permission.

Clip Art by George Reed. Used with permission.

   Each full Moon has a name, or actually several names depending on the culture or part of the world. In the United States the full Moons of September and October are both named for practical reasons in that one is called the Harvest Moon while the following one is called the Hunter’s Moon. Unfortunately the definition of the Harvest Moon apparently may be either the full Moon closest before the September Equinox, or the closest full Moon after the September Equinox.
   It would be much simpler if this were determined by the full Moon closest to the September Equinox, making this year’s Harvest Moon in September and the following full Moon which is today, 18 October, the Hunter’s Moon.

kc_chiefs_moon   So what exactly is a Harvest or a Hunter’s Moon, and what makes them more significant (if they are) over other full Moons? The significance lies in the idea that September is typically harvest time at mid-latitudes in the United States and that once the fields are cleared the Hunter’s can more easily spot and ‘bag’ their prey. It is also significant in how the Moon rises each evening around the time of full Moon in September and October.

ecliptic-ani   The path or angle
the Moon rises is less steep than at other months so for a few days the Moon rises only about 30 minutes later rather than the 50 or so minutes of later rising time during other months. This in effect means more bright full moonlight later into the evening allowing farmers and hunters to take advantage of the extra light. The change in the angle that the Moon rises, and conversely sets, varies as the angle of the ecliptic changes as the Earth revolves around the Sun going through the cycle of seasons. As this animated graphic is showing this angle changes each month for the same reason that we have seasons – the axial tilt of the Earth.

Like 2 salt grains in the ocean here are two useful resources about the Moon out of the ‘Sagans’ of lunar resources that are out there. (1 Sagan = “billions and billions”
   Download the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS Storybook)
   Download the Lowell Observatory Moon Clock. (PDF 79 Kb)

   ‘Rock it’ to the Moon in an animated simulation of a crewed Constellation Program mission to the Moon. This is actually a combination of two separate videos that I cut apart and spliced back together to reduce the length. (5m49s)

   Just enjoy it!! (1m49s)

   And of course Neil Young singing “Harvest Moon”

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Comet PanSTAARS Is Still Visible

comet-students    Comet PanSTAARS seems to have brightened since my last observation from Tucson last Thursday evening. It was cloudy last Friday and I was traveling back to Missouri over the weekend so last night after class was my first opportunity since I got back home. This is a picture of the comet taken from the Longview College campus with parking lot lights behind us. we were looking across the Kansas City metropolitan area so in addition to the parking lot lights we were dealing with the sky glow from the city lights. Nonetheless the comet was easily seen in binoculars and with the naked eye. Picture was taken at 8:30 pm CDT.

   Here is a short slideshow of pictures of the comet.

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Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Luna and the Sisters

Click on this image to see it full size   The waxing gibbous Moon will be within a few degrees of the open star cluster the Pleiades as they rise in the east at around sunset local time. With binoculars you are able to see the two in the same field of view, however the bright reflected light from the Moon will dim out all but the brightest stars of the Pleiades. This evening with the Moon near the Pleiades starts another cycle of several evenings where the Moon repeats the same pattern from last month of passing through this region of Taurus the Bull, and the planet Jupiter. Use the link to my Qué tal web site at the bottom of the page for more observing information and graphics.

   Click here to preview the January 2013 issue.

phone-button   Bobs-Spaces is now Mobile for SmartPhones by way of a small icon/link that you install by using your smartphone web browser and this address: http://mobile.dudamobile.com/site/bobs-spaces
Mobile Bobs-Spaces   Here is what the Mobile Bobs-Spaces looks like on my aging ITouch after clicking on the icon graphic, which in reality is not an installed App or program. Clicking on the icon just connects you with the main page of my blogs. If you want to see Bobs-Spaces as a web page with all of the pages that are on the web site there is a link to switch to the ‘classic’ view.

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.