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Archive for Monday, November 2, 2009

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Lunar trivia for a month with two new moons

November 2, 2009

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Look, up in the sky. See the moon? We’ll be doubly blessed this month. In addition to the regularly scheduled new moon (Nov. 16), we have the Nov. 20 debut of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” the second film in the “Twilight” franchise.

The new moon is one of eight phases the moon goes through in its 29 1/2-day cycle, called a lunation.

The others are waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full, waning gibbous, last quarter and waning crescent. Check out the U.S. Naval Observatory’s time-lapse movie of the phases at aa.usno.navy.mil/graphics/moon-movie.gif

The soundtrack for the 1981 film “An American Werewolf in London” is, naturally, moon-heavy. It includes “Blue Moon” by Bobby Vinton, “Blue Moon” by Sam Cooke, “Moondance” by Van Morrison, “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and “Blue Moon” by The Marcels.

The full moon goes by many names. In the English and Colonial traditions, the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox is the Harvest moon (usually in September). The Hunter’s moon is the first full moon after the Harvest moon. October’s full moon is also called the Blood moon.

The expression “once in a blue moon” refers to a rare occurrence. The common perception is the phrase relates to a second full moon in a calendar month. But Sky & Telescope magazine studied past “blue moons” as listed in almanacs, and found some were not the second full moon in a month. But they were a fourth full moon of a season (typically, each season has three full moons). So a “blue moon” is still a rare event; it’s just not what most people think it is.

Famous Moons: Sun Myung Moon, religious leader; Wally Moon, baseball player; Moon Zappa, actress, writer, musician; Keith Moon, musician; Moon Mullins, musician; Moon Landrieu, politician; Shoaib “Moon” Malik, cricket player.

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