by Phil Brown
Ten participants joined me for a special hike on the Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Antrim, on January 31, in celebration of the full moon. This event was listed as a last-minute ‘pop-up’ event and was co-sponsored with the Harris Center for Conservation Education, and ran in place of a previously scheduled January hike that was postponed due to poor weather. The group assembled from towns across the Monadnock Region to learn about and view the spectacle of the ‘Super Blue Blood Full Moon’ – a rare celestial event that combined several interesting factors of both natural and artificial construct.
A ‘super moon’ refers to the moon’s perigee, or closest approach to Earth, within a single annual orbit. This full moon was a full 15,000 miles closer to Earth than its average distance of 238,000 miles. As a result, a super moon can appear up to 14% larger and brighter than usual.
A ‘blue moon’ refers to the second full moon within a single calendar month, and is – despite the name and associated meaning – actually NOT that rare an event, occurring on the average of every 2.7 years.
A ‘blood moon’ refers to the orange coloration caused by the sun’s light refracting around the shadow of the Earth and is associated with an eclipse of the moon, which occurred the morning of January 31st. Unlike the blue moon, this also relatively common event is not a construct of the calendar.
The eclipse, itself, was somewhat unremarkable on the East coast, where only a small portion of the moon was hidden by the Earth’s shadow. However, the timing of this event, which peaked at 6:45am, was relatively convenient for many on the East coast, so perhaps more people than usual had the opportunity to enjoy this special event.
Those participating in the Willard Pond field trip navigated an icy Tudor Trail from where we finally saw (as it broke through low cloud cover) the rising full moon over Goodhue Hill. We learned that the January full moon is also referred to as the ‘Wolf Moon’ – perhaps named by Native Americans whose fires kept hungry wolves at bay during this perennial time of food scarcity. No howls from wolves were heard, but a couple of distant Barred Owls were present, chanting their ‘Who-cooks-for-you?’ calls from the deep woodlands of NH Audubon’s largest wildlife sanctuary.
Hoping to catch the next Super Moon Lunar Eclipse? Mark your calendar for January 21, 2019.