Moons Over Montereys

Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 12:00AM

If you've ever been out on your Monterey enjoying a spectacular sunset, and stayed around to see a full moon, you can appreciate its beauty, mystery and power.

Before people had formal calendars, the Native Americans gave traditional names to the moons to honor the seasons, animals and plants, and those names stuck for the entire month. January's full moon is named the Wolf Moon, in honor of the canine hunter who howls in the bitter cold night.

The recent March full moon is called the Worm Moon, after the Earthworm trails that can be traced in newly thawed ground, signaling the upcoming spring season and the return of hungry robins.

April's full moon is the Pink Moon, named for the ground cover Phlox, an early-blooming and widespread wildflower. June is host to the appropriately named Strawberry Moon, for the fruit's short but luscious season.

The August full moon is the only one named for a fish - the Sturgeon Moon - after the once abundant Great Lakes fish that was prized by that area's earliest inhabitants. A few tribes called it the Full Red Moon because the sultry haze of this hot summer month makes it appear red.

The Harvest Moon is the full moon that can occur in either September or October, depending on the autumn equinox, providing longer, well-lit nights during which crops can be harvested.

There is usually a full moon every 29 days, so some years you can see thirteen total. This year's Blue Moon - the extra one, the moon that "came too early and had no folk name" - will arrive on December 28, 2012.

The moon, its cycles, and its effects on tides and human activity have been praised, studied and scorned for centuries, but enjoying the heavenly illumination of a full moon on the water? Clearly priceless.

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