Supermoons, Blood Moons, and Lunar Tales

Update Sept. 2015–Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

** Click here for a photo gallery of Supermoon views from around the world. 

It hasn’t happened in 32 years–and won’t for another 18 years: Sunday, September 27, a total lunar eclipse will coincide with a “Supermoon.” Check this link for a video explanation of the event.

Update August 2014–This video shows the supermoon as seen from several beautiful spots around the world. 

Update July 2014–The first of three supermoons expected to light up the sky this summer provided a breathtaking show to people around the world on Saturday night. This site provides ten beautiful photos of the event

Update April 2014–Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse Fills the Night Sky: story and video here, beautiful photos here.

The Moon Burning Down the House

On a few rare, beautiful occasions, the rising summer moon has set my brother’s house on fire. It happens only when I stand on my parents’ front lawn, and even then, the moon has to be in the perfect phase.

My brother and his family live up the quarter-mile lane and across the road from my childhood home. Whenever possible—especially in summertime—I catch the moon rising over lush fields, rolling hills, and a meandering creek that dissects the gravel lane. On the second or third night after the moon is full, its path has shifted a bit, and it rises later behind my brother’s farm directly to the east. If enough field dust permeates the air or a trace of thin cloud hovers in the right spot on the horizon, the moon glows like flame behind the dark silhouette of the house.
The moon was full late last summer when I drove to the farm to confirm that the magic is still there: yellow-tinted waves ripple in the cornfields, golden reflections bounce off the cottonwood leaves, and a lone blue heron rises from the creek, slowly winging to a spot downstream as it hunts in the moonlight.
From mythological epics to top-40 love songs, the moon has worked its way into our folklore, and farmers have looked to it for guidance and signs of luck throughout history. Some plant garden vegetables by its light, old-timers claim horses and other animals “act strange,” and fishermen like to tell a few whoppers about casting to the light of the moon.
Dad claims his Uncle Frank used to schedule jobs ranging from planting pumpkins to working with his livestock according to the sign of the moon. “His garden was always one of the best in central Iowa, and his lambs consistently brought home blue ribbons from the county fair.”
Still quoting Frank, Dad’s tone seems tinged more with Star Wars Jedi “force” than Farmer’s Almanac folklore. “Frank said the natural influence of the moon is moist, cooling, attractive, and magnetic, in contrast to the sun’s fiery, drying force. The old-timers couldn’t explain how the moon influences earthly goings-on, although they did point out that the moon creates land tides as well as ocean tides.” 

Some say the full moon brings on insomnia, insanity, and lycanthropy. Others claim it affects young lovers, hospital emergency wards, and restless dogs. I’ll leave that to the experts and rumor-mongers. All I know is that on a moonlit summer night on the farm, you can imagine a mist of silver surfers floating lightly along the tops of the corn as the moon spins its magic.        

by dan gogerty

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