Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The "Nana Moon"

Two evenings ago I took a series of photos of the New Moon, as it dropped low in the sky, just as the sky darkened, after sunset. I love to watch the "new moon" like this. When my daughter Zoe was young, we used call it a "nana moon" - not for her Grandmother, but for the shape - of a banana! (Technically it should be written as 'nana moon, to indicate the abbreviation, but with the quotation marks as well, it gets too confusing.)

The first photo was taken at 9:03pm, and, as you can just see, there was enough reflected light from the earth's surface, to make the "dark side of the moon" just slightly illuminated.
At 9:08 pm (we are talking Australian Eastern Summer Time, or Daylight Saving Time), the sky had darkened, and the reflected light from the Earth had ceased bouncing back onto the moon. So, now we have the classic crescent of the New Moon. The colour of the illuminated edge of the moon (sun's light just visible on the merest arc of the Moon) had increased, as the Moon is now visible through a greater distance of the earth's atmosphere (as it is now lower than the first shot). That means more of the atmospheric pollution is now colouring the Moon.
According to a Moon Chart I found (on a "Aus bush foods" website) the New Moon event occurred on 8 January. According to the purists, the New Moon is when the moon is present in the sky, but is not visible (when the far side of the moon is being lit by the sun) because we are seeing only the "dark side" of the moon. I am not a purist, and tend to regard the first illuminated sliver of the moon as being the "new moon". I am not alone, in counting it from that time. Wikipedia will explain all the subtleties of that debate for you.

There are various websites and Moon Charts which one can use to plot one's menstrual cycle, (but I am not into that) and one's psychic state, and one's lunar astrology too. Over to you, folks. Just ask Dr Gooogle "Moon Charts + Australia".


mike macgirvin said...

Think I tend to be a purist in that regard and consider a new moon to be invisible. But the sliver is certainly more exciting than nothing!


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mike

Glad to know there ares some purists around.

For me, it is like starting counting from the number "zero". I prefer to count from something I can see. So, to me, it makes more sense to start from the number "one". But I do know the other system has scientific acceptance.

The whole New Moon phenomenon has been terribly important culturally, especially with calendars, and events such as Easter, which was much more significant than chocolate eggs. We are really dealing with the story of re-birth of the seasonal cycle, which in pre-history, was terribly significant.

Personally, I am glad we have electric lights these days, and don't have to worry about the phases of the moon so much.