Entries tagged "moon"
When is Easter?
Today, is the short and not very helpful answer.
The longer, more useful answer is:
Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
This explains why it is never the same from year to year. The calendar date of the equinox will only move by a day or so, but the timing of the next full moon can vary by as much as 29 days.
There is an interesting page about the history of this calculation on this page.
Happy Winter Solstice One and All!
Here's an interesting solstice fact for you: the Earth is actually receiving more solar radiation at this time of year than at any other time. This is because the Earth does not orbit the sun in a circle, but in an ellipse. In the northern hemisphere winter the Earth is at its closest to the sun, a point called 'perihelion', but in summer it is at its furthest point, or 'aphelion'.
The Guardian have published a little article on the timing of the winter solstice.
However, my favourite solstice…
As promised, here is a more detailed update on my short time in Oman last week. My main reason for being there was to train the Omani Outward Bound instructors. In the short time available I wanted to give them a decent understanding of how to use nature's clues to find their way in the desert. Just as importantly, I needed to give them the techniques and knowledge they could pass onto their future students.
We started with theory indoors at the offices of Outward Bound Oman, with the help of planetarium software and makeshift whiteboards (paper…
Thank you to everyone who came to the course at the Royal Geographical Society on Friday. Also to those who came to the talk and walk on Saturday and to Rohan for organising and sponsoring the event.
I have just returned from a wonderful two days in the desert in Oman, where I have been teaching a group of Outward Bound Oman instructors some techniques for them to pass on to their students. In the picture above we are marking out the shadows from a stick in the sand.
We also looked at…
Last night I divided my time between two very different arenas of the modern human experience. I watched dross on TV, including some Jonathan Dross himself, but then I found the antidote to such inanity. I nipped out regularly to put markers down in the snow, as I watched the moon's shadows march west across the white.
I took some photos of the results of my moon shadow stick, together with a perfect north-south line, which I will be using on my Beginner's Guide to Natural Navigation courses. Yes, that is a bit of a tease, but…
Just saw and managed to snap a beautiful 22 degree moon halo. They are caused by the moon's light refracting through the ice crystals in the high clouds. In this case almost certainly thin cirrus clouds which are presaging the arrival of bad weather. Halos are not the same as moonbows, although they are often called that in error.
Will write more about them tomorrow if I get the chance, but wanted to get the photo up while I could.
Awoke this morning and took the newest member of the family, a miniature Schnauzer puppy called Dreyfus, out for his constitutional.
Then it was time to look southeast and to watch Virgo melt back into the dawn light as Venus rose above the thin slither of a waning crescent moon. Below them pink and orange light bounced through under the dark blue sky and above the white of the hills.
My kind of music. Probably what Dreyfus was thinking too.
The tops of the trees are just visible in silhouette against the clouds that are lit up by the moon. That is Jupiter to the right.
Once more my pre-dawn 'Batsense' kicked in and I awoke before five with an urgent desire to go outside. It was not the pressure on my bladder, I do not think, but the idyllic conditions and night sky players that were beckoning me. Orion and his sword were first to offer their greetings and then I noticed Jupiter still visible in the southwest. Sirius, Betelgeuse, Capella, the Plough and Polaris sketched out some order in the celestial sphere.The moon was close to setting and was lighting up rows of fluffy cumulus clouds on their western edges. As time…
BBC Devon have a delightful story about the sculptor, Marcus Vergette, on their section of the BBC website.Marcus is sculpting a series of 'tidal bells' that will ring out at high tide around the country. There is no mention of springs or neaps in the article, so I'm presuming the bells are being placed low enough to ring at a neap tide (the narrowest range between high and low).In the book I touch on the fact that humans have become very adept at approximating tidal behaviour, but it is still impossible to predict tidal times or heights…
I returned from a family trip to Brittany yesterday and what better welcome back than to come downstairs this morning to find Jupiter beaming at me through a skylight. It is a firm fixture in the early morning sky now and consequently is being confused by many for Venus. If a bright white object is visible when it is too light to see many stars then you are likely looking at Jupiter or Venus, and if the sun is more than fifty degrees away (five extended fist-widths) then that narrows it to Jupiter. This is an exercise you only need…
I love the idea that the moon is trying to tell us where the sun is hidingIn this photograph, which I took a few days ago, the moon is chasing a recently set sun and has begun its own journey down towards the western horizon. You can see the sun's bright light reflecting vividly off the right-hand, western side of the moon. The light gets brighter towards the edge, until it reaches a burning white at the edge itself.It is almost as though the moon is trying to say, 'You're getting warmer!'
Over the weekend I was camping in the Cotswolds with a couple of old friends. Those who follow the blog closely may have spotted that makes three back-to-back camping trips over half-term. Nine nights under canvas in the British countryside and already being indoors has started to feel quite strange.We walked fifteen miles on the Saturday and it was a joy to let the others take control of the navigation. I couldn't resist the odd peek at the OS map out of curiosity, but generally tried to just go where I was told.We nearly stepped on a grass snake at…
Back from a short family camping trip to the Isle of Wight, where I stumbled across this wonderful sign on the side of an old lifeboat station house.In case it is not legible in the picture, the words read as follows:When full or newYou see the Moon,The tides far out in the afternoon.But when the Moon'sAt either quarter,At tea the beachIs underwater.Six hours the waterebbs away,An hour laterEvery day.Get down to the beachAs soon as you canTime and TideWait for no man.------How divine is that?
A couple of weeks ago I promised to write up the story of my afternoon with the Bedouin. The article can be found here.
Thanks to everyone who came to hear my talks and buy the book at the Outdoors Show yesterday. I will be giving the talks again today and on Sunday at the following times on the stage at the Wilderness Camp:
1.15: The Wonderful World of Natural Navigation. A quick peek at a couple of the journeys that led to my passion for the subject, including the transatlantics, and then a whirlwind tour of lots of techniques that you can use yourself.
4.00: Navigating Using the Night Sky. The ways we can use the stars, moon and planets…
A beautiful six day old moon is hanging high in the sky at the moment. There are some weird, wonderful and slightly complex ways of using it to find direction. There is also a really easy one that takes less than five seconds. The method is on page 147 of the book, with an illustration on page 148.Are those cries of, 'You tease!', I hear echoing around the blogosphere?
Another enjoyable Beginner's Guide to Natural Navigation course at the RGS yesterday. In attendance: a patent attorney, paraglider pilot, academic, film maker, doctor, retiree, vet, town planner and optical assistant to name a few.
Among the off-piste topics that we discussed there was talk of whether we sleep better aligned North-South than we do East-West and also the idea that the expression, 'follow your nose' may have some science behind it: humans have iron oxide in their sinuses which may account for some experiments that have shown a magnetic sense of direction in humans.
Lest I forget,…
Yesterday afternoon I threw the snow off the Land Rover and headed out into the white - I had about half-a-dozen minor outstanding 'to-do's for the book, but there is no point writing a book about natural navigation if you are the sort of person who can resist these conditions. Dressed in a suitably ridiculous balaclava I made my way to the foot of Halnaker Hill and then proceeded uphill in wellies. Unless I'm on a mountain I find wellington boots with two pairs of socks the ideal footwear for small excursions in snow, even good hill-walking boots let…
A restless night for lots of reasons, but that did at least allow some good Geminid-watching. Most meteor, ie. shooting star, showers occur when Earth passes through the dusty trail of a comet. The particles burn brightly as they hit our atmosphere. The Geminid meteors are some of the most dependable for night-skywatchers, taking place each year in mid-December and characterised by relatively slow moving yellow burning points. They appear to originate in the part of the sky that is home to the constellation Gemini, hence the name. The exact nature of the object causing the Geminid showers is less…
First thing this morning our bathroom was bright with diffused light from the blinds that had been filled with moonlight from the west. I put on a thick jacket and pair of Ugg boots and wandered outside. Looking up I was spoilt. The moon was indeed throwing her weight around and this can sometimes make for imperfect stargazing, but the cold air was clear enough that between the first glow of dawn in the east and the moon's light in the west there were riches to choose from. Gemini, Leo and Virgo were high in the sky. The dark…
...and he was high in the sky, which reminded me of one of the simplest and most beautiful of natural navigational celestial techiques. Orion is a great help in finding East or West, but there is a method for finding direction that works even if you have no idea what object you are looking at in the sky. It takes time to apply accurately, but it can be used anywhere in the world and applies to all the stars, the moon, the sun and all the planets - even if you have no idea which one you are looking…
Venus and Sirius both beamed at me this morning during my pre-dawn shiver outside. The aircraft were painting a pink path to the continent to escape the autumnal cold. They are of course heading southeast, which I'm sure you checked from the tiny crescent of the moon. Speaking of crescents, this morning calls for a hot croissant.
This slightly arty (read - bad!) photo from last night shows an overexposed moon, but just below and to the left you can hopefully make out the bright dot that is Jupiter. The moon and Jupiter were in conjunction, or aligned. This is exactly the sort of thing that would have got the ancients into something of a lather. Modern astrologers are no doubt busy, one astrology website outlines the significance as follows:"You require considerable interaction with people and the environment to stimulate your feelings. This encourages a social awareness and attracts most of your attention. You feel the…
I've just been researching the Transylvanian Effect. That is the supposed link between the moon's phases and deviant behaviour, psychiatric problems, crime etc. Did you know that Sussex police deliberately deployed more officers during nights with full moons in summer 2007?
When taking this picture of the moon last night the shutter speed was much slower than I had planned. The resulting photograph struck me as a reminder that it is the sun's light that we see when looking at the moon.
This just in...TristanMany thanks for a fantastic day yesterday. I learnt so much and was stimulated also by the opportunity to apply what I did know to a new "problem solving" challenge! I checked out the moon last night and located Polaris and was quite comfortable that it was NOT directly above my head as I always imagined it might be! (I do need to re-set the weathervane and I think I'll…
My research into this subject constantly leads me, very willingly, back to the thin line that runs, curving between philosophy, religion, science and nature. If such a line exists - discuss!I would go so far as to say my work would be very awkward if my personal jury had come in unanimously in favour of any hard views in any of those areas. Sometimes there is a deep longing to know more about things that I know I likely never will. It is hard to articulate this sensation perfectly, but it would perhaps be summed up well by saying that…
I've been experimenting over the past few nights, as we approached the full moon, with a technique that I've been working on that combines two others. It is possible to find direction using the moon in a number of ways: by its shadow, by using a tangent to its crescent and by understanding its phase relationship with the sun. A very indirect method, that I have not come across anywhere else before, is to use moonlight reflected off cloud edges to reveal the direction of the moon, then to use an understanding of its phase to determine direction. Like a…
Something that I must have been aware of at some level for years, but that only arranged itself in my mind as an idea yesterday was the difference between the observations of characters in travel stories. There is a marked difference between what a character notices depending on the viewpoint that the author has chosen. First person travel characters seem to notice more natural detail. It must be easier to convince a reader that the subtle way a tree branch bends is relevant if the character is portrayed in the first person. Something that I had not previously given much…
A Lancaster uses the moon to navigate at Goodwood Revival last weekend. Maybe not, but nice shot by Ben Davis.
My youngest son has added the word 'moon' to his vocabulary of about 7 words. It came as a bit of a surprise as I was in the kitchen early this morning when this strange sound, 'za mooon', kept coming out of his mouth. He took my hand, led me to the back door and then pointed up at the object in this photo, neatly solving the mystery of what 'za mooon' could possibly mean. Does this mean I might be bringing my work home with me too much?
Time and navigation have a cosy relationship, as John Harrison, inventor of the chronometer that cracked the longitude problem in the 18th Century would attest. The sun, earth, moon and planets and stars have at times been seen as cogs in a huge clock.
So many natural phenomena take their orders from these bodies and tide is one of the best known of these. I took this photo of the tide running past a cardinal off Jersey this weekend. The cardinal is an easterly one, signalling that the safer water lay to the east of…
Last night was one of those occasions where the moon was the natural navigator's best option. At about 10pm the sky overhead was overcast with broken clouds down to nearer the horizon. The western glow of dusk was gone and the only objects that could be seen were Jupiter and the three-quarter Moon. The cloud meant no Polaris, and the bright moon in the only patch of open sky blotted out the other stars. The Moon plays hard to get at first but on nights like this it can be a very good friend.
Early this evening Mrs G and I escaped for a quick wander aboard Golden Eye, my Contessa 32, in Chichester Harbour. One of the lovely things about the harbour is that when time is short or wind is in short supply it is possible to enjoy a potter on the water that is more akin to a gentle river cruise than a sail.The 20hp diesel pushed us gently west into a low sun. A moon that was a day off first quarter hung to our left and the line down its midriff, the line between light and dark, pointed neatly…