Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Flower Moon of May

At long last, our trees are leafing out, and they are wonderfully silhouetted against the fine inky darkness of springtime.  Always, or most of time, there are clouds after nightfall, but Luna is something wondrous to behold on evenings when the rain clouds roll away for a while, and she can actually be seen riding the night sky.

It would have been grand to see the full moon last evening and watch a meteor shower as well, but the Eta Aquarid meteor shower for 2014 peaked during the first week of May (before dawn on Tuesday, May 6 to be exact).  The meteor shower is a yearly happening, and if you didn't catch it earlier this month, it will occur around the same time in 2015. Every year, Earth crosses the orbital path of Halley’s Comet in late April and early May, and debris from the comet lights up the sky before dawn as the Eta Aquarid meteor showers - our planet plunges most deeply into the stream of comet debris toward the end of the first week in May. Spring's meteor shower is named after Eta Aquari, a bright star in the constellation Aquarius where the meteors appear to originate - that point of origin is called the radiant or apparent radiant.

Naming meteor showers for the constellations or stars where they seem to start their journey is a common thing.  The Perseid meteor showers (visible from July 17 to August 24 this year) are associated with the Swift-Tuttle comet, and they are named for their radiant or apparent point of origin in the constellation Perseus.  Autumn's Orionid meteor showers (visible for most of October and peaking on October 20/21 this year) are named for the mighty constellation Orion, and they are also associated with Halley's Comet - that makes them near kin to this month's light show.  A lifelong comet enthusiast and observer of meteor showers, I have probably spent years watching them race through the night sky, but I have yet to capture a good photo of Halley's castaway children, or Swift-Tuttle's offspring either.

We also know May's great golden moon as the: Alewife Moon, Blossom Moon, Bottlebrush Moon, Bright Moon, Budding Moon, Corn Planting Moon, Death Moon, Dragon Moon, Dyad Moon, Fawns Moon, Field Maker Moon, Fifth Moon, Fish Moon, Flowering Moon, Frog Moon, Frogs Return Moon, Geese Go North Moon, Geese Moon, Grass Moon, Green Leaf Moon, Hare Moon, Hoeing Corn Moon, Idle Moon, Iris Moon, Joy Moon, Leaf Dancing Moon, Leaves Appear Moon, Leaves Tender Moon, Lily of the Valley Moon, Little Corn Moon, Little Finger Moon, Magnolia Moon, Merry Moon, Milk Moon, Moon of Big Leaf, Moon of the Strawberry, Moon of the Camas Harvest, Moon of Waiting, Moon To Plant, Moon When Corn is Planted, Moon When Ponies Shed Their Fur, Moon When the Buffalo Plant is in Flower, Moon When the Leaves Are Green, Moon When the Little Flowers Die, Moon When the Horses Get Fat, Moon When Women Weed Corn, Mulberry Moon, Mulberry Ripening Moon, New Waters Moon, Old Woman Moon, Panther Moon, Penawen Moon, Peony Moon, Planting Moon, Putting Seeds in the Hole Moon, Seeds Ripen Moon, Sprout Kale Moon, Staying Home Moon, Storing Moon, Strawberry Moon, Suckers Dried Moon Summer Moon, Thrice Milk Moon, Wind Tossed Moon, Winnemon Moon.

As names go, I am fond of "Leaf Dancing Moon" and "Budding Moon".


B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Too cloudy last night to see meteors. But the night before I got some good shots of the moon. I wonder how my zoom of it shows an upside down version of yours. Perhaps I'd better turn it over. Or??

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Sorry, here's the blog I posted my pic on...

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Thanks, I think I turned the camera to get it to rest on rail, and forgot that I needed to rotate the photo. Going to go fix it now.

Kameshwari said...

Oh, I wish I were a more dedicated meteor shower watcher. When I was younger, I would spend long summer nights our on the lake, watching streams of light falling to the earth. It looked like teardrops from the celestials.

I continue to enjoy your full moon posts.