POTD: Gondola Moon

POTD: Gondola MoonGondola Moon Grenada, Nicaragua 2013

I though it was unusual that the “horns” of the crescent moon pointed upward in Grenada instead of sideways like I thought they always did at home. This gondola moon as I called it is more commonly called a wet moon. It turns out I was only partially right. The apparent angle of the  crescent moon’s horns does vary by latitude, but also by season due to the changing of the inclination of the moon’s orbit relative to the earth. The more perpendicular the orbit to where you are on earth, the more of a wet moon you have. At the equator the angle of the orbit changes little over the seasons and the moon always rises and sets more or less vertically. The result is  wet moons being the norm. As you move towards the poles however, the angle of the moon’s orbit changes more dramatically with the seasons and you only get wet moons (or partially wet moons) in the winter time. That I don’t remember seeing a wet moon up north is probably due to not getting out much at night in winter months, or a poor memory, or both.]]>

4 thoughts on “POTD: Gondola Moon”

  1. I like the mood of this photo. It fits the sense of this old building. I also appreciate the astronomy lesson. I noticed the moon through a thin cloud cover at bedtime last night, but I couldn’t see or zero in on its position. I’ll have to pay more attention.

    1. Thanks Betty. I see on my calender that we are at about a half moon right now, so no horns to point up or down. But one should still be able to see if the half moon is facing up, down, or sideways.

  2. When the horns of the moon point down (or sideways?) it’s called a dry moon. For me this analog comes from thinking of the shape as a cup that would hold water. When the horns are up, the “inside” would contain water and be wet. When the horns are down or sideways, all the “water” would drain out, leaving the cup dry. Not very scientific but I like the imagination behind the phrase! 🙂
    Here’s what Wikipedia says:
    The terms wet moon and dry moon originate from Hawaiian mythology, where it was thought that the moon appeared as a bowl which would fill up with rain. The period where this is most common, January 20 – February 18, corresponds with Kaelo the Water Bearer in Hawaiian astrology and makes the moon known as the “dripping wet moon”. As the year passes into summer, the crescent shape shifts, pouring out the water and causing the summer rains. After the “bowl” empties, it dries out and rights itself, creating the “dry moon”.

    1. Kathy, I thought I read that the wet/dry mythology was more universal than one culture, with some calling it a wet moon when it’s “full of water” and some when it is emptying the water because that causes rain on earth. I guess I’d call the gondola a dry moon when it’s right side up and you can ride it without getting wet and a wet moon when it turns over and dumps you out in the water.

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