Spirited Enterprise

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50 Things You Never Knew About The Full Moon

So it's not just a matter of superstition. According to a police study, the
lunar event coincides with an increase in hooliganism. Jonathan Brown and
Rebecca Bowle shed some light on the celestial phenomenon.

1. The full moon is a lunar phase occurring when the moon is on the opposite
side of the earth from the sun and all three bodies are aligned in a
straight line. Viewed from earth, the near side of the moon is fully
illuminated by the sun giving it the familiar circular appearance.

2. It is only during a full moon that the dark side of the moon - the
hemisphere on the opposite side to the sun - is completely dark.

3. Lunar eclipses - caused by the passage of the earth's shadow across the
illuminated hemisphere - only occur during a full moon. However, because of
the angle of tilt of both bodies the moon normally passes either north or
south of the earth's shadow.

4. The chances of being bitten by a dog are twice as high during a full moon
according to a study at Bradford Royal Infirmary, which reviewed 1,621
cases of dog bite between 1997 and 1999. However, a study at the University
of Sydney in Australia concluded there was no identifiable relationship
between the state of the moon and dog bites.

5. Gervaise of Tilbury, a 13th-century canon lawyer, was the first to link
the full moon with the transformation into a werewolf. Writing in his Otia
Imperialia he reports cases in the Auvergne, below. The philosopher
Gottfried Leibniz described the popular work as a "bagful of foolish old
woman's tales".

6. The full moon occurs every 29.5 days - the duration of one complete lunar
cycle.

7. The female menstrual cycle has long been linked to the full phase of the
moon. One theory is that prehistoric men were more likely to go hunting
during their womenfolk's period because of taboos associated with blood. The
most profitable time to hunt was during the full moon and the best way to
convince the men to return with food was with the prospect of sex.

8. Neo-pagans, including followers of Wicca, hold a monthly ritual based
around the full moon called an Esbat. The term has been linked to the
writings of the controversial anthropologist Margaret Murray.

9. The second full moon occurring within a calendar month is called a Blue
Moon. The latest was seen on 31st May 2007. Far from being a rare event this
phenomenon occurs once every three years on average.

10. "Blue Moon", which was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in
1934, became a standard ballad and was recorded by singers such as Frank
Sinatra and Bob Dylan. The most famous version was recorded by the doo-wapp
band the Marcels, in 1961, selling more than one million copies.

11. The world's tidal ranges are at their maximum during the full moon when
the sun, earth and moon are in line. Sailors know the effect as the spring
tide - a reference to the leap in the water level rather than the season of
the year.

12. The only month that can occur without a full moon is February.

13. Farmers refer to the harvest moon, the full moon closest to the autumnal
equinox, which occurs in September. It is also called the elk calling moon
or the wine moon.

14. A full Moon is considered unlucky if it occurs on a Sunday but lucky on
Monday or moon day

15. According to superstition a male child is more likely to be conceived at
full moon.

16. In October 1939 in Springfield, Missouri, the full moon appeared to fall
from the sky. The event was reported in the local newspaper but was later
revealed to be a plunging weather balloon.

17. The Gregorian calendar dates Easter as the first Sunday after the
ecclesiastical full moon - the first to occur after the vernal equinox. It
is also known as the egg moon.

18. The Chinese Lantern Festival, dating back to the Han dynasty, is staged
on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month after the new year. Chinese
communities celebrate across the world by lighting lanterns and feasting on
glutinous rice.

19. The Lunar Society, which included Erasmus Darwin, James Watt and Josiah
Wedgewood, took its name from the practice of holding monthly meetings on
the Monday nearest to the full moon. Members referred to themselves as the
Lunatics.

20. A three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley jail in
Leeds in 1998 showed a rise in violent incidents in the days either side of
a full moon.

21. Scientists have long battled to explain the "moon illusion" - whereby
the full moon appears to be larger the closer it is to the horizon. The
phenomenon is understood to be caused by human perception rather than the
magnifying effect of the earth's atmosphere.

22. Timber harvests in South America and South-east Asia are avoided during
the full moon because it causes the sap to rise in trees, which in turn
attracts deathwatch beetles which can devastate crops.

23. Thousands of revellers gather each month on the beach at Koh Phangan in
Thailand, to celebrate the full moon and dance the night away.

24. The Native American Algonquin tribes in New England give each full moon
of the year a name such as the beaver moon, the sturgeon moon and the
strawberry moon.

25. The next full moon will occur on 30 June 2007.

26. The full moon may appear round, but is actually shaped like an egg with
the pointed end facing earth.

27. The dark spots on the full moon that create the nursery-rhyme man in the
moon image are actually basins filled up to five miles deep with basalt, a
dense mineral. Other facial features are actually "seas" of frozen lava and
sharp, rugged mountains.

28. In China, the dark shadows forming the man in the full moon are seen as
a toad. The toad is considered one of the five poisons of yin. It is
believed that eclipses occur when the toad in the full moon tries to swallow
the moon itself.

29. The Moonlight Sonata, by Ludwig von Beethoven, is probably the most
widely recognised classical work associated with the full moon. The name
comes not from the composer but from a critic who compared the piece to the
effect of moonlight on Lake Lucerne.

30. The Innuit of Greenland believe the full moon is a hungry god, Anningan,
who is intent on eating his sister, the Sun Goddess, Malina. Their
cat-and-mouse sibling chase follows the cycle of the day, with Malina rising
as Anningan sets and the cycle of the moon, with the chase waning when the
moon is full.

31. The RAF used the moon to launch its first successful attack on a German
city when planes attacked Lubeck in 1942.

32. Wesak, the most important of the Buddhist festivals, is celebrated on
the full moon in May. It celebrates the Buddha's birthday and, for some
Buddhists, marks his birth and death.

33. The full moon is the brightest object in the night sky. It has an
apparent magnitude of -12.6 compared with the Sun's of -26.8.

34. The Slovakian psychiatrist Eugen Jonas created a method of birth control
and fertility based on the full moon.

35. An analysis of the birthdays of 4,256 babies born in a clinic in France
found no relationship between the full moon and fertility.

36. A study by Tübingen University, Germany, claimed that police reports for
50 new and full moon cycles showed that the moon is responsible for binge
drinking.

37. A telescopic drawing of the full moon by the English mathematician
Thomas Harriot, from early August 1609, is the first on record and preceded
the Italian physicist Galileo's study by several months.

38. Renaissance artists traditionally depicted the moon as a crescent rather
than in its full phase.

39. The full moon is said to be at perigee when it is full at the same
moment its orbit brings it closest to the earth. The moon appears
imperceptibly brighter at this time.

40. The Great Moon Hoax of 1835, was perpetrated by Richard Adams Locke for
the New York Sun. His story claimed that the eminent scientist Sir John
Hershel had spotted furry winged men resembling bats on the surface of a
full moon.

41. The full moon is at its highest altitude from the Earth during the
winter seaaon.

42. Some insomnia sufferers claim to sleep worse during a full moon;
although others say they sleep more soundly.

43. It is a common misperception that the first Apollo landing occurred
during a full moon. This did not occur until more than a week later.

44. The moon is 10 times brighter when it is full than when it is in a
quarter phase.

45. Pagans believe the most mystical time at Stonehenge is when the full
moon wanes leaving the earth to be reunited with her lover, the sun at dawn.

46. The honeymoon is named after the full moon in June. As it fell between
the planting and harvesting of crops this was traditionally the best month
to get married.

47. The oldest lunar calendar, showing the full moon was discovered in caves
at Lascaux in France. It dates back 15,000 years and marks the phases of the
moon, with a series of dots depicting the days in the cycle.

48. In 2001, the first test match between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe had to be
postponed by one day due to new Siri Lankan government rule, which bans
playing sport on a full moon.

49. The Californian grunion only spawns on the three or four nights after
the highest tide associated with each full moon. The fish come ashore to lay
their eggs.

50. In a study of 1,000 tonsillectomy operations, 82 per cent of
post-operative bleeding crises occurred nearer the full moon than the new
moon, according to the Journal of the Florida Medical Association.

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