Photo of snowy Sussex woodland trail Photo of snowy Sussex woodland trail

Not Quite Full Moon Rising

Another very enjoyable Beginner’s Guide to Natural Navigation course at West Dean College on Saturday. There were sailors, walkers, a forager and an army officer among the ever-varied student backgrounds. My thanks to all for coming.

Last night, shortly after 10.30, I took this photograph of the moon rising above the woods and emerging from behind thin clouds. It looks very much like a full moon, but is actually one day after full, a waning moon. It does highlight the difficulty of judging the phase of the moon accurately.

From an aesthetic perspective there is no need to be able to judge the moon’s phase, but if you are trying to use the ‘phase method‘ of finding direction from the moon then it is vital. I go into a lot of detail of this method in the book, because it is very satisfying but no less challenging. In a nutshell, you can work out direction from the moon if you understand where it is in its cycle relative to the sun (its phase). In the simplest possible example of this method, a full moon is opposite the sun, so if the sun is setting then the full moon will be rising and vice versa. But it gets so much more challenging, interesting and fun at every other stage!