Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but the final full moon of the summer came and went this past Tuesday. And what a moon it was.

For those who missed the moonrise, trust me, it was exquisite. Around 8 p.m. a huge, perfectly round globe began to cast a glow as it crept over the Continental Divide. There was still twilight to the west and the ensuing exchange of light from one side of the sky to the other allowed this observer to actually feel the earth turning under his feet. To the west, Venus became brighter by the minute and, to the east, the light of the day gave way to the light of the night. There was not a cloud in the sky and the clarity was crystal.

In my time on this planet there have been, give or take, 669 full moons. (You do the math. There are, on average, 12.37 full moons in a given year) and I have seen some great ones over desert, sea and mountains. But this particular moonrise set a standard that will be hard to top in the next 669 go-rounds.

There is a tradition in Carbondale for folks to gather at the town park at 9 p.m. on the night of the full moonrise and cruise the streets on bicycle. While I was already heading out of town by that time, a short while earlier there were bikes in the racks at all the restaurants as people got ready for their moonlit ride. It is a great tradition and one that befits a town as soulful as ‘Bonedale.

This August moon has many names around the world. The Hindus call it “Raksha Bandhan” and it is associated with events in Northern India that celebrate brothers and sisters. Buddhists call it “Nikini Poya.” And American Indians refer to it as “The Sturgeon Moon” because certain tribes felt that the best time to capture the monstrous fish in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain was under the light of the eighth full moon of the year.

Now about that last full moon of the summer thing. Generally the ninth full moon of the year, September’s Harvest Moon will rise before the fall solstice. But this year things are a little different. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory (and they should know), fall this year begins on Sept. 22 at 9:09 p.m. local time. The next full moon, meanwhile, will take place the next evening, on Thursday the 23rd and will rise at 6:53 p.m. So there will be a lag between the Autumnal Equinox and the full moon.

If you missed all of this, not to worry. This August has been sensational around here with just enough rain (we even had a gully washer or two) and beautiful clear summer skies. Tonight you can catch a moonrise that will be 93.6 percent illuminated. It should come up around 8:45 and it should be almost light enough to read by.

Just thought you’d want to know.