What’s going on with hunter’s moons?
Frequent hunters said their favorite place to hunt was on hunter’s moons, when lunar days — which are supposed to be 12-plus days long — were shorter and the moon was closer to the horizon. So the hunters suggested it had a similar name. The “trophy” of the moon was a limb near the horizon that was visible in every direction. The word “moon” was in ancient Greek.
The name stuck. It’s been dubbed “hunger moons” over the years, a name some hunters claim they gave the moon when it wasn’t rising so close to the horizon — when the moon was actually shining bright from the nearby horizon. Historians have given different reasons for the moon’s “hunger,” but the concept has persisted in many accounts.
Today, however, it doesn’t really fit any science — the moon doesn’t have an actual energy use, and the angle of the horizon doesn’t mean that its light is supposed to be transfixed by the horizon.
What actually caused the legend?
Some say the hunter’s moon isn’t really a moon, it’s just a blood moon. In fact, October 21 also marks the beginning of the sabbath for many people on the Jewish calendar. This can be problematic for countries with multiple days of the Jewish calendar, such as Egypt and Israel, according to CNN.
But some science suggests that some hunter’s moons are just that — hunts.
In the 1950s, the Royal Astronomical Society warned of a glitch in its timekeeper, called the Astronomical Coordination System. The fault made the watches lose synchronization with the lunar cycle.
The Leif Erickson Institute for Astronomy said in a 1947 issue of Monthly Notices that the rest of the lunar cycle would still be in sync with the chronograph, but something strange happened to the lunar timekeeper.
“There is now an uncertainty which has appeared in the lunar timekeeping of Earth,” wrote the institute.
So if we’re confusing hunters and moon watchers, then we should probably blame the occultation, which is used to describe false lunar images, and its sometimes violent influence on our planet.
While scientists say some hunter’s moons have no scientific consequences, an occultation can cause damage. The Aug. 24, 2013, partial lunar eclipse caused extreme space weather that triggered auroras and a partial power outage in California, as people didn’t realize the moon wasn’t always close to the horizon.