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Volume 15, Issue 13 ~ March 29 - April 4, 2007

A Full Moon by Any Other Name

Whatever you call it, April’s moon smells of spring

Thursday night the waxing moon appears high in the east at sunset with bright twinkling Regulus less than one-half degree below. A first-magnitude blue-white star, Regulus is the heart of Leo the lion, one of the oldest constellations and a harbinger of spring. Armed with a telescope or a pair of binoculars, look for Regulus’ yellow companion star, R. Leo.

Monday the full Easter Moon rises just south of due east, while the sun sets a tad north of west at 7:32. Colloquially, the Easter Moon is is whichever full moon falls closest to Easter, whether it comes before or after the actual date.

However, for millennia the moons of spring — the two preceding and following vernal equinox — have pinpointed the beginning of Passover, Lent and the date of Easter. When the Catholic church adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1582, it marked Easter as the first Sunday following the Pascal Moon, which is the first full moon following spring equinox.

April’s full moon has many other names, all spring-like: the Egg Moon, the Planters Moon, the Pink Moon, the Grass Moon, the Seed Moon and the Frog Moon.

All five naked-eye planets are visible, although Mercury and Mars play hard to get. Mercury is the brightest light at dawn yet rises only 30 minutes before sunrise. Far dimmer, Mars, too, is low in the east-southeast at daybreak. As the evening star, Venus shines high in the west from dusk until setting at 10:30pm. Saturn shines almost directly overhead at twilight and sets in the northwest around 5am. Jupiter rises at 1am and blazes in the south at dawn.


Illustration: © Copyright 1925 M.C. Escher/Cordon Art-Baarn-Holland; Graphics: © Copyright 2007 Pacific Publishers. Reprinted by permission from the Tidelog graphic almanac. Bound copies of the annual Tidelog for Chesapeake Bay are $14.95 ppd. from Pacific Publishers, Box 480, Bolinas, CA 94924. Phone 415-868-2909. Weather affects tides. This information is believed to be reliable but no guarantee of accuracy is made by Bay Weekly or Pacific Publishers. The actual layout of Tidelog differs from that used in Bay Weekly. Tidelog graphics are repositioned to reflect Bay Weekly’s distribution cycle.Tides are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are positioned to coincide with high and low tides of Tidelog.

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