Outdoors Journal: Walking in the moonlight

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT
  • Updated: December 9, 2011 - 1:46 AM

 

If you have the opportunity, take a walk in the woods or in a park, or even around a city block on a December night when the moon is full, or nearly so, and there is good snow cover. A walk under the full moon is worth any discomfort from the cold. Once outside, your eyes adjust to the moonlit landscape quickly and you notice the sparkling light on the snow and the wondrous silhouettes of the trees. Most anyone doing this mini-trek adventure hopes to hear the hoot of a great horned owl. But it's the silence and the light that gets us thinking and restores our minds.

Just thinking about the moon is fun. Probably no other celestial object is held in greater affection, unless it's our closest star, the sun, the source of the moonlight. During a full moon, we see face-like features in the light and dark pattern of its disc. We find beauty in all its phases during the month. Both the words "month" and "moon" are derived from the same root, which means "to measure," and our most important tool for measuring time, the calendar, was designed around the moon's phases.

The average month of 30 days coincides closely, though not exactly, with the 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes it takes for the moon to make a complete circuit around the Earth. And the period between phases - from one full moon to the next, for example - is close to 29 1/2 days. Full moon for this December is Friday, and we have the added incentive to get out early in the morning because a total eclipse begins at 6:45 a.m., but totality begins after moonset.

JIM GILBERT

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