The Moon on Sunday evening and early Monday morning allowed for a spectacular sight enjoyed by night owls all over the Northern Hemisphere. Due to the alignment of the Earth, which was directly between the sun and moon, the Moon passed into Earth’s shadow creating a total lunar eclipse. This had been highly anticipated and promoted by the media because this eclipse was the final in what is called a lunar tetrad. A tetrad is a succession of four lunar eclipses in row with six full moons between them. The first eclipse in the ongoing series of four occurred on the night of April 14-15, 2014, the second was October 7-8, 2014, the third was April 4-5, 2015. The fourth, called the ‘Blood Moon’ because it is the last in the tetrad, fell on the night of September 27-28 2015. A rather romantic explanation infers the splendid color came from the light of all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falling upon the face of the moon mid-eclipse.
In addition to the eclipse, stargazers were treated to the glorious show of moonlight, which occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. This position makes it appear unusually large and bright, providing light as though it were daytime. It is the full moon occurring most closely to the Autumn Equinox (September twenty third) which also makes it special on the lunar calendar.
Throughout history Moons have had names and this one is often called the ‘Hunter’s Moon‘… and it most certainly provides enough light for hunting. Traditionally, this is also called the ‘Harvest Moon’ as it provided extra light to allow farmers more time to harvest their crops.
In medieval times the Celts would use the Harvest Moon to mark the time before Samhain (Halloween) and considered it a blessing. Following crop collection ritualistic singing, dancing and drinking were performed to protect individuals from lurking evil, for this Moon is the last before Halloween. Native American tribes called it the ‘Full Corn Moon’ and the Chinese referred to it as the ‘Chrysanthemum Moon’ because of the of the change in color. In Italy it was known as the ‘Wine Moon’ for it signaled the time grapes are plump and ready for collection. The Norse considered it the most powerful moon of the year and planned expansion during this time.
Early Monday morning the Moon was so bright, so beautiful, and so magical that the wonder of it was spellbinding… one can only imagine a world before electricity when moonlight was enchanting. Go outside in the wee hours of the morning and gaze upon it before it begins to wane… it is indeed memorable.