Another lunar month has passed and once again tonight (Sunday) we will be looking at a beautiful big ball of light in the night sky.
A full moon occurs every 29.5 days and happens when the moon is completely illuminated by the sun's rays. It occurs when the Earth is directly aligned between the sun and the moon.
August’s full moon is traditionally called the Sturgeon Moon after a North American fish which was most readily caught around late summer. The name actually means “the stirrer,” and sturgeon stir up the mud and silt on river and lake bottoms as they look for food.
I've been amazed by what I've found out about these prehistoric-looking, grey-green fish.
Firstly, they've been traced back millions of years and many people call them “living fossils". The earliest sturgeon fossils date to the Late Cretaceous period, and are descended from fish which date back to the Triassic period some 245 to 208 million years ago. To put that in scale, the Giant's Causeway is about 50-60 million years old. These fish even predate the dinosaurs of the Jurassic period. Just wow.
They can live up to 150 years, can grow to over 6 feet long and weigh around 200 pounds. One fella caught in Idaho was over 10 feet long!
Sturgeon used to be a major part of the ecosystems in North America's Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and in the Mississippi River, and they were once found all the way from Canada to Alabama. But, surprise surprise, humans have wrecked things. The lake sturgeon has become very rare because of intense overfishing in the 19th century, pollution, and damage to their habitat and breeding grounds due to agriculture and lumbering. There are now some conservation efforts and their population numbers have been increasing.
Anyway - back to tonight's full moon.... As usual there are some alternative names:
Flying Up Moon (the time when young birds are finally ready to take the leap and learn to fly).
Corn Moon and Ricing Moon (signify that this is the time to gather maturing crops).
Black Cherries Moon (when these are ripe)
End of Summer Moon
Moon of Joyfulness (I like this one)
Mountain Shadows Moon.
In the lunar calendar, the Sturgeon Full Moon of August embodies the final days of summer and signals the beginning of harvest season. Deep within us, we feel the change as the days start to shorten, the sunlight grows weaker and leaves start to yellow on the trees.
We are supposed to start our autumn preparations now, in advance of the Equinox, by harvesting and filling our larders, drying and saving seeds, creating herbal infusions to use later for salves, tinctures, balms etc.
This is also the time to finish off all the household and garden projects, sign up for new term courses, join the library, get recommendations for binge-watch box sets and order your heating oil.
Bah. I'm not ready for Autumn yet. Let's stretch summer as far as we can......
Happy Full Sturgeon Moon, to all my friends.
A Summer Night by WH Auden
Now north and south and east and west| Those I love lie down to rest; The moon looks on them all, The healers and the brilliant talkers, The eccentrics and the silent walkers, The dumpy and the tall.