Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Full Moon to Occur on Halloween

For the first time in 46 years, this year's Halloween ghosts and goblins can trick or treat by the light of a full moon. They won't get another chance until 2020, astronomers said.

Wednesday night's full moon will look like an orange jack-o-lantern rising from the east at dusk, said Jack Horkheimer, executive director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium.

It will appear orange at the horizon because it is seen through denser layers of the earth's atmosphere. Adding to the effect, the moon's tilt at this time of the year makes the "man in the moon'' particularly visible.

Some astronomers believe jack-o-lantern carving was inspired by the rising, orange October moon, said Horkheimer, writer and host of PBS's nationally syndicated Star Gazer series for 25 years.

To make the superstitious even more jittery, a constellation associated with the some end-of-the-world beliefs will also be at the top of Wednesday night's sky.

The Seven Sisters constellation, which looks like a small cluster of grapes, has long been a signal for the time of year to honor the dead - such as All Saints Day, Nov. 1.

According to myth, the Seven Sisters constellation is at its highest point in the sky during a great calamity, possibly the biblical flood or the sinking of Atlantis. The Aztecs and Mayans believed it would be overhead at midnight on the night the world comes to an end, Horkheimer said.

The Seven Sisters and the full moon will both be directly overhead at midnight, he said.

"It's just very nifty because it will be a very bright full moon and when it's up high like that, it will just flood the landscape with a lovely bright light,'' said Horkheimer.

Technically, the moment the moon will be at its fullest is 12:41 a.m. EST Thursday, but the moon will look virtually full when trick or treaters are out in force late Wednesday.

I tell ya, nothing beats the original Halloween...that creepy music, the escape of Michael Myers from the insane asylum in the rain...the paranoid doctor whose fear of Michael you can feel oozing out of him...but the rest of the movies really dropped in quality after the first one...I really thought the Halloween movie that sucked the most was the one where some evil people were selling kids these masks that would kill the person wearing it and make bugs and other nasty things come out of their eyes and mouths when they watched a certain show. I think that was Halloween three...ugh...
Happy Halloween, Samhain, or whatever you call it. This is my favorite holiday, in my favorite time of year, in my favorite month...also the month I was born...the month that really ushers in Autumn...when there are skies like today, overcast but with hints of orange and red from the hidden sun...cold and blustery...and the smell of burning wood and leaves stings your sinuses...when curling up with a good collection of tales from Poe or Lovecraft or your favorite horror scribe is that much more potent...when watching a classic like the original Night of the Living Dead or the first Halloween is that much more harrowing...I should be reporting in at times during the day just to offer up some scary links or some such thing...unfortunately Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year (obviously), so I am of course at work...but the Halloween spirit is strong, and it will have it's way...