Hunter's Moon to light up Halloween

Sunday October 28, 2012

Special to The Eagle

Halloween marks the almost-midway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. We are well into this season of preparing for winter and the spring that follows.

The first rush was last month, around the Harvest Moon, when vulnerable crops had to be gathered before the killing frost and over-wintering varieties such as winter wheat and rye (now lush green grass) urged seeding.

The second crush is now, for hunters, farmers and gardeners alike. The Hunter’s Moon, nearly full tonight, will be full tomorrow. It lights outdoor work and the hunter’s way during the hours after sunset and before sunrise. It also adds intrigue to Halloween on Wednesday.

Gardeners are pulling and storing hardy plants such as brussels sprouts and carrots, and sowing garlic and flower bulbs before the ground freezes.

The debris of dead annual and perennial plants begs for clean-up and is added to compost heaps that have begun to transform into nourishment for the soil. Hunters stalk their prey for life-sustaining food and fur.

Halloween is a celebration that may have its origin in harvest festivals and coincides with holidays that give tribute to the dead while ushering in the dark time of year.

How about creating a cosmic-themed Halloween costume to encourage the study of astronomy during the long nights ahead?

Moonrise tonight is at 5:09 p.m. in the east-northeast. Sunset is 5:53 p.m. in the west-southwest. The moon sets at 7:12 a.m. tomorrow and full moon rises at 5:40 p.m., 12 minutes before sunset.

On Halloween, see the moon rise at 6:55 p.m., followed by brilliant Jupiter at 7:38 p.m.

Let me know if you catch sight of a witch flying across the face of the moon.

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