Effects of the Moon

Full Moon schedule for 2019

  • 21 January – Wolf Moon
  • 19 February – Snow Moon
  • 20 March – Worm Moon
  • 19 April – Pink Moon
  • 18 May – Flower Moon
  • 17 June – Strawberry Moon
  • 16 July – Buck Moon
  • 15 August – Sturgeon Moon
  • 14 September – Harvest Moon
  • 13 October – Hunter’s Moon
  • 12 November – Beaver Moon
  • 12 December – Cold Moon

As the Earth rotates on its axis, the moon rotates in the same direction taking 24 hours and 50 minutes to return to the same point on Earth. The rotation of the Earth and the gravitational pull of the sun and moon
on the Earth create tides. The moon provides illumination from the sun reflecting light onto it. It does not generate light nor heat. We get a full moon once a month as seen from the schedule above. The same side of the moon always faces Earth so we never see the far side of the moon, known as the dark side of the moon. This side does get illuminated, we just don’t see it. This is because it takes the same amount of time for the moon to spin on its axis as it takes to rotate around the Earth.

There are 8 phases of the visible moon every month:

  • New Moon
  • Waxing Crescent
  • First Quarter
  • Waxing Gibbous
  • Full Moon
  • Waning Gibbous
  • Third Quarter
  • Waning Crescent

The ancients associated the moon with fertility and as a way to tell time using the lunar phases. It is thought of as being mystical with links to the occult, strange behaviour and it plays a part in many legends, folklore and ghost stories. In symbolism, the moon has a feminine energy and represents illumination, maternal, emotions, illusions and uncertainty.

If the moon has an effect on the tides, does it have on effect on living things, on humans as we are composed of about 60% water? Coral spawning is triggered by the full moon. Many insects, marine species and animals change their behaviour during different phases of the moon. Plankton sink during brighter moonlight and feed in shallow areas when darker to avoid predation. Squid, deep water fish and crustaceans use bioluminence to mimic the moonlit sea to hide their silhouette from above. Some creatures are triggered to spawn. Some use the moon’s light to navigate. Others use the increased luminence for visibility. Predators like lions hunt during the dark phases of the moon as their prey tend to hide during bright moonlit nights.

There is no scientific connection to the effect of the moon on menstruation, lunacy, epilepsy, sleep deprivations and hospital attendances. These are considered to be urban legends. Lunar eclipses were viewed in historical times as omens and birthed superstitions.

Since ancient times the lunar phases and type of full moon have been considered to affect us spiritually. The types of full moon are:

  • Supermoon – best visualised at dusk during the lunar cycle when the full moon or new moon is closest to Earth.
  • Blue Moon – if two full moons occur in a month, the second is called a blue moon. It can also be a blue moon because of its colour. When there are dust particles in the air like after a volcanic eruption, the particles scatter the red light and the blue colour is visible. Blue moons are rare.
  • Blood Moon – we see this during a total lunar eclipse when the moon passes into the shadow of the Earth.
Supermoon, Blue moon and Blood moon

The moon is considered a planet in astrology and so has an effect on astrology readings. The ancient Egyptian god of knowledge and wisdom was Thoth, also the god of the moon. Stone circles appear to align with lunar cycles, sun cycles and astronomical patterns. The world’s oldest lunar map was found at a neolithic site in Knowth, Ireland. The map is seen when illuminated by moonlight. It was carved by early Stone Age astrologers.

In 1510 Leonard Da Vinci wrote about the moon and discussed Earthshine. This is when the full circumference of the moon is visible with a crescent moon. He, in 1510, thought the earth reflected light back to the moon. We now know it is the clouds that reflect sunlight back to the moon called Earthshine. He also thought the moon had oceans of water. Space travel has confirmed that the moon is made of ancient hardened lava rock and no water has been found.

There is a belief that the moon is a projection or non-natural structure. Also conspiracy theorists believe it to be a base for alien life, that it is in fact hollow and a giant spaceship. They believe that we are being watched by aliens. Is there life outside of Earth? Crop circles, UFO sightings and alien abductions have provided evidence of something out there. Nasa is planning to drill into Europa, Jupiter’s moon to search for extraterrestrial life. Europa has an ice shell over its underlying ocean. Water has also been found on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons. There are about 350 moons in the solar system, 175 of them orbiting the planets, 9 orbit the dwarf planets and the rest orbit space like asteroids.

With regard to calendars, the early christian church introduced the Roman calendar in AD 500-1000 with 12 months. The church wanted to stamp out old ways of time-keeping such as the ancient Mayan tradition of using the 13 moon lunar calendar. The church associated number 13 with witchcraft and the devil and killed people of learning and burned down libraries. It is a myth that the number 13 is negative as Mother Mary appeared on May 13 and on the 13th for 6 months after. The Miracle of the Sun happened on October 13. Pope John Paul II was shot 3 times on May 13 but survived.

Ancient Egyptians did not appear to worship the moon but associated it with fertility and growth. Planting was considered best done under the light of the full moon. They believe Horus, the sky god, had a weaker damaged left eye which was the moon and the sun was his right eye. The ancient Greeks and Romans personified the moon as the goddess Selene. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, believed that people filled with terror or mania at night were visited by the Roman moon goddess, Luna. Hence the word lunatic. People of medieval England associated crime and violence with full moons. Psychiatric hospitals, such as Bethlehem in London, shackled their patients to their beds to prevent any aggressive behaviour during a full moon. The ancient Inca thought lunar eclipses were signalling the end of times.

There have been 6 manned moon landings since Apollo 11 in 20 July 1969. The last one was on 14 December 1972. This landing made history for humanity. For two and a half hours, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the surface of the moon while Michael Collins orbited the moon with the spacecraft. The next mission is being planned to launch a permanent human space station. Such is the fascination and lure of the moon.

“It is a beautiful and delightful sight to behold the body of the Moon”.

Galileo Galilei
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