Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sun, Earth, Moon and Stars


We're dancing with the earth, moon and stars today. It's a full lunar eclipse, a full moon, and a meteor flashed out from the stars yesterday and landed some where in Oregon or Washington...making it then a meteorite. My husband had our telescope out for viewing the passing of the 'spy satellite' but unfortunately, wasn't able to locate it at the correct parameters and while we missed the meteor's streak, we did hear a sonic boom.

A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow. Earth always has a shadow, which is created by the sun. On those rare occasions when the Moon, Earth and the Sun are all lined up just right, the Moon passes through this shadow.This would happen every full moon if the Moon orbited around the Earth in the same plane as the Earth orbits around the Sun. The Moons orbit, however, is tilted about 5 degrees above the Earth-Sun plane. This tilt itself, however, rotates, allowing eclipses to happen when the tilt of this plane lines up with the Earth-Sun plane, blocking sunlight.

An eclipse of the moon can only take place at a full moon, and only if the moon passes through some portion of the Earth's shadow. The shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped components, one inside the other. The outer or penumbral shadow is a zone where some portion of the sun's rays are blocked. In contrast, the inner or umbral shadow is a region devoid of all direct sunlight.

February's full moon is known as the ice or snow moon but in other cultures is referred to as the storm moon, trapper's moon, moon of little famine, moon of the racoon, bony moon and my personal favorite...moon when trees pop. The last term is from the Dakota Sioux Indians and I must say, there are times when you truly can hear them popping! Two of ours popped totally over in our last storm, including my children's childhood weeping willow with our tire swing.

So, tonight with our own cloud cover here in Salem, we may not be able to fully appreciated the full moon or the lunar eclipse but that still leaves open a world of possibilities of ancient rites and celebrations including potential howling and lunancy.

My personal favorite full moon ritual from our ancient ancestors...grab an empty bag of any kind and while dancing under the stars, skyclad (ie wearing nothing but the sky's rays) chant 'fill it up' or something similar. Fills your bag and you with an abundance of energies and gifts...not to mention a potential ride in a marked vehicle and a chance to design a quilted straight jacket.

Fill it up tonight and dance under the stars!

2 comments:

  1. Our weather forecaster said at 9 that the lunar eclipse would happen at around 10, that we would be able to see it well. but I was lazy and I didn't want to go out in the cold, so I didn't.

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  2. I completely missed it - can you believe it?! Went to work the next morning and found out about it. Sheesh. I gotta watch the news more.

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.