Last night was the full moon known as the Harvest Moon.
I listen to NPR (that’s National Public Radio for those of you who can’t get past network television). It’s full of news and commentary, but it also features a few informative short features shows that air daily. Earth & Sky is one of these shows. It covers astronomy topics.
The other day Earth & Sky did a few different pieces about the Harvest Moon. Although I already knew a few of the things they mentioned (for example, the Harvest Moon gets its name from the time of year it appears — harvest time in the north), I learned a few things, too. Like the fact that the moon rises only a few minutes later than the previous day for a few days right around the Harvest moon. That means the moon is up and glowing not long after sunset for a few days. You can confirm this fact with the Wickenburg Almanac that appears on wickenburg-az.com’s Home page.
I’m a big lover of full moons. One of the things I like best is the way the moon illuminates the desert around my home. It’s literally bright enough to read by. In the summer, we often go for full moon horseback rides, although sadly, we didn’t get out this past summer. At our place up at Howard Mesa, the moon is especially bright, probably because the place is normally especially dark.
Have you ever spent a half hour just sitting out in the light of a full moon? If you haven’t, try it. Bring your spouse or kids or a friend or two. If you live on the outskirts of town, beyond the streetlights like I do, it may be as simple as sitting out on your patio with all the indoor lights off. But if you live near downtown or in one of the newfangled housing developments that seem to be sprouting up all over, you’ll have to travel a bit to get away from those darn lights. Try the middle of the Hassaympa River off Rincon Road. Or take a drive down Constellation Road, about a mile past the pavement’s end. Or how about the Vulture Peak Trail parking lot? These are all good places to watch the moonlight on the desert.
When you do this, try to be quiet. Listen to the desert’s night life. The wind in the trees, night birds, bats, coyotes. If you’re lucky, you may hear an owl or the sound of a packrat scurrying in the underbrush. The sound is part of the experience.
Think it’s a crazy idea? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Do it tonight. You may find yourself doing it every month.
And then you’ll realize what the folks in the big city are missing out on.