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Moon musings

September 8, 2012

Yes, writing does leave you a good deal of time for thinking, not all of it about the book you’re working on! I woke up thinking about this today and thought I’d share.

Laura and I joined friends on Friday the 31st for the “Full Moon Party” at Pierre’s Restaurant in Islamorada in the (middle) Florida Keys. It’s an upscale place with decor–particularly in the bar–that evokes old Havana. The food is probably the best between Miami and Key West. In any case, the FMP is an every 28 day event that in this case happened to fall on the Friday of Labor Day weekend.  There are bands, a Bahamian parade and general craziness on the adjacent beach, and the local police are outside on Route 1 all night, just in case. It’s great to observe the antics from the upstairs, outdoor dining deck with a glass of wine in your hand unless you’re 18-25 and really looking to party!

During dinner, we had talked about the fact this this was also a a “blue moon” (yes, there was lots of wine), which means it was the second full moon in the same month (although I found that there’s also a second definition), an only every few years occurrence. So, when we left Pierre’s around midnight to walk back to the nearby Cheeca Lodge, we all immediately looked up and got a truly a WOW! moment.

There was an enormous halo around the full moon, something that the four of us–and apparently many others, also standing in the parking lot staring up at the sky–had never seen before. It wasn’t one of those tiny halos hugging the curves of the moon. No, this was, I later learned, what meteorologists call a “halo effect” and it’s:

“…caused by tiny ice crystals that have gathered twenty thousand feet above the ground, as thin, wispy clouds. These clouds are so thin, you might not notice them at night, if it weren’t for their effect on the moonlight. Incoming light rays from the moon are bent, or diffracted, by these ice crystals at an angle of 22 degrees.This means that in addition to the direct moonlight, you will also see diffracted moonlight in a circle 22 degrees away from the moon. This is about the distance of your fist, held at arm’s length.Like a rainbow, this halo can even be slightly colored; red on the inside, and blue on the outside.”

[This according to the folks at Moments of Science. Go to http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/a-ring-around-the-moon/ and see for yourself.]

Oh, and we all took note of one other unusual thing on Friday, the 31st; all American flags were being flown at half mast. We wondered why and then realized it was in honor of the funeral that day for astronaut Neil Armstrong. You remember him–first human to step onto the moon?!?

Who says there’s no God in the heavens!

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One Comment
  1. Robert permalink

    This is a very interesting and thought provoking post… I enjoyed reading it very much…

    Robert Gittess

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