According to the calendar tonight is a full moon although the moon has been large and bright for a few nights. Wikipedia defines the full moon:
“Full moon is a lunar phase that occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. More precisely, a full moon occurs when the geocentric apparent (ecliptic) longitudes of the Sun and Moon differ by 180 degrees; the Moon is then in opposition with the Sun.”
The Wikipedia entry gives the mathematical formula for calculating the date and time of the full moon:
D = 20.362955 + 29.530588861 x N + 102.026 x 10¹² x N²
I’m exhausted from typing out that formula. And that is 10 to the negative 12th power, by the way. I couldn’t find the superscript minus sign symbol.
Your eyes glaze over.
I had this same experience during my formal introduction to astronomy. I was a college sophomore and Astronomy 101 was an easy way for a liberal arts student to get the required “Math and Science” credits. My roommate took the class in the fall semester and she was always shuffling her astronomy playing cards and spouting off about the astral formations she could identify. She would randomly shout out “Tri-ANG-u-lum” when things got dull in the study lounge.
Based on this, I signed up for the class. 1:00 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I got my astronomy playing cards at the bookstore and I sat through the first lecture. The second lecture was conducted with the lights out and various galaxies projected on the wall and ceilings. The third lecture: more of the same.
The fourth lecture ended my relationship to astronomy. It was a cold February day and the cafeteria was serving the iconic winter lunch: tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I lingered too long over my soup and perhaps I shouldn’t have had the second sandwich, but I did. I thought about skipping Astronomy and taking a nap accompanied by the soap opera “All My Children” but I obediently shuffled over to the lecture hall instead.
It might have been the transition from the frigid air into the dark, overheated lecture hall. It might have been the two grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m not sure. All I know is that ten minutes into the lecture, I put my head down on the desk and drifted off. Luckily, it was a large class (150 or more students) so I may have been one of many sleeping sophomores, but during my nap, I accidentally pushed my notebook and purse off the desk and onto the floor and it made quite a racket. I am not sure if the professor noticed, but I was so embarrassed that when the lights went on and we were dismissed, I marched down to the Dean’s office and dropped the class. At that time, I blamed it on the subject matter, but reflecting upon it now, I’m convinced it must have been the grilled cheese sandwiches.
More recently, I’ve been reading about lunar gardening and how some gardeners plan their garden planting, harvesting, pruning, and mowing based on the lunar cycle. The folklore around full moon names are sometimes self-explanatory, like “The Strawberry Moon” in June and “The Harvest Moon” in October. In retrospect, I wish I had had a cup of coffee instead of that grilled cheese sandwich.
Have you ever tried lunar gardening? Please tell me about your experiences!
Oh, and don’t forget to get outside tonight and take a peek at The Snow Moon!