Monday, January 9, 2012

The Full Wolf Moon Tonight

The Full Wolf Moon

Amid the zero cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Native American villages. The Full Wolf Moon also known as the Old Moon or the Moon after Yule will be seen tonight. The Full Wolf Moon was named by Native Americans because it took place in January amid the cold and snow.

The Farmer's Almanac states that Indian tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. The names, such as Wolf Moon, were applied to the entire month in which each occurred, so we are in Wolf Moon month.

To dedicated sky watchers, the moon has its own fascination, especially when it is full, as it will be tonight — the first full moon of 2011 and the biggest full moon this year. After all, this is the only object in the solar system on which we can see a wealth of detail without any optical aid whatsoever.

The first thing to look for is the man in the moon, or perhaps you can more easily see the woman in the moon or even the rabbit in the moon. One way or another, you can probably see a pattern of some sort in the play of bright and dark markings across the moon's face.

The darker areas are known as maria (singular mare, Latin for sea), though they have never seen a drop of water in the last four billion years. The lighter areas are mostly cratered highlands, where relatively recent asteroids have crashed into the moon's surface, exposing bright rock beneath the surface.

This, the first full moon of the year, is known as the Old Moon. Other names are Moon After Yule, and Ice Moon. In Hindi it is known as Paush Poornima. Its Sinhala (Buddhist) name is Duruthu Poya.

I just looked to the sky and locally we have heavy clouds - but here is what I know about Nature, the Full Wolf Moon is just above those clouds and elsewhere in the world there are many who will be able to view the magnificence of this moon.

So, once again, heads up tonight – enjoy Mother Nature’s gift to us.


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