Monday, May 04, 2015

The Flower Moon of May

At long last, northern trees are leafing out, and they are wonderfully silhouetted against the fine inky darkness of springtime.  You can't see the buds in this photo, but trust me, they are there.  Night skies are often cloudy, but Luna is wondrous to behold on evenings when the rain clouds roll away, and she can be seen dancing up there in the night sky.

It would have been grand to see the full moon last evening and watch a meteor shower at the same time, but this year's Eta Aquarid meteor shower will not peak for another few days (Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from three a.m. until dawn to be exact). The Eta meteor shower is a yearly happening, and if you don't catch it this time around, you can try again next year around this time. 

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 shower - our little blue 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 from which the meteors appear to originate - the point of origin is called the meteor shower's radiant or apparent radiant.

Naming meteor showers for the constellations or stars where they seem to start their journey is common.  The Perseid meteor shower (visible in August) is debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet and is named after its apparent radiant in the constellation Perseus.  Autumn's Orionid meteor shower (visible from October 2 to November 7 this year) is named after the mighty constellation Orion, and its radiant is just north of Orion's red super giant, Betelgeuse.  The Orionid shower is also associated with Halley's Comet, and so it is cosmic kin to this month's splendid light show.  A lifelong comet enthusiast and observer of meteor showers, I have probably spent years watching them race across the night sky, but I have yet to capture a good photo of either Halley's castaway children or Swift-Tuttle's offspring.

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".


Carole Crotty said...

I like the Little Finger Moon! Lovely rich photo of the full moon. Thank you.

Barbara Rogers said...

Thanks for the meteor showers info! I seldom see them because we get clouds most nights in the well as myself not being outside looking usually. But maybe I'll try this year! I have enjoyed the ones I have seen in my lifetime.