While some of us may not be able to tell Venus from the space station, even the most amateurish astronomer among us should recognize and appreciate a full moon. Say “full moon” to some people and they’ll say, “Stand back! The crazies will be out!” Others insist the most docile family pets often go berserk during a full moon. Since the next one is scheduled for tomorrow night, March 1, it might be a good time to notice a few things.
It seems there’s no shortage of people around who sincerely believe that a full moon prompts strange behavior. Of course, there are those among us, too, who feel that full moons were only good to light up the movie screen so that Lon Chaney Jr. could change into a werewolf and Bela Lugosi could turn into a bat. Of course, that very kind of thinking made it difficult back in the 1950s for a bunch of 10-year-old boys walking home after the show on Saturday nights, especially through a certain stretch of railroad tracks in Greentown. We all talked brave and boasted we weren’t “afraid of no werewolf.” But if truth be known, had somebody jumped out of the bushes and hollered “Boo,” we’d all have fainted dead away.
Really, though, there are those who think all this stuff about a full moon being magical or something is nothing more than pure fantasy. I guess it’s one of those deals where you believe in some sort of mysterious lunar power, or you don’t.
I ran across an article in a magazine a while back that did list some interesting facts about the moon. For instance, we always see the same side of the moon, and it produces no light on its own. It simply reflects sunlight toward the earth. Of course, every school kid already knows that. The article explained there’s usually one full moon a month, and every 2.7 years, a second one will appear in a single month. The second full moon is called a “blue moon.” The expression “Once in a blue moon,” originated because this occurrence is so rare. The term also, no doubt, put a bit of jingle in the pockets of Mr. Bill Monroe.
A full moon in September is called a “harvest moon” because it rises quicker since days and nights are of equal length then, and on clear nights, farmers can gather their crops long after dark. The full moon in October is called a “hunter’s moon,” for similar reasons. There’s no mention of why corn liquor is called “moonshine”, but it could be because its manufacture and distribution are often nocturnal in nature.
And, of course, we all know that scientists predict high and low tides based on the position of the moon. They say it has something to do with the fact that the moon doesn’t follow a perfect circle in its path around the earth, and has something to do with changes in the magnetic fields.
Anyway, tomorrow night, keep an eye on ole Rover. If he goes bonkers, don’t worry about it. Just take him for a moonlight stroll, but try to avoid that lonely stretch of railroad track in Greentown.