Astronomical data: On the morning of August 18 (at 10:27 am (GMT/BST)) there will be a full moon, though it may be best to wait until later that evening to see it. For those in UK, moonrise that evening is about 8.15pm local time, though it will rise and peak at midnight or just after in the constellation of Aquarius, so the later you view it that evening, the better.
To ancient and latter-day Celts this moon is known as the Dispute Moon, and for medieval England, for history buffs, it was known as the Corn Moon or Grain Moon.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1. The Book
Feastday: The 18th August (though some say, 19th) is the feastday of Saint Helena (or Helen). She was born about AD255, and married Constantius Chlorus, a Roman General, who went on to become Emperor of Britain, Gaul, and Spain. She may have been a Christian from birth, but was certainly so, when she reached adulthood. Helena worked tirelessly to promote Christianity, and later went to the Holy Land, where she spent huge amounts of money on the relief of the poor, and on building churches on various sacred sites. She is particularly associated with the alleged discovery at Jerusalem, near the site of Calvary, of the cross of Jesus.
Look! the round-cheeked moon floats high,
In the glowing August sky,
Quenching all her neighbour stars,
Save the steady flame of Mars.
White as silver shines the sea,
Far-off sails like phantoms be,
Gliding o’er that lake of light,
Vanishing in nether night.
(Emma Lazarus (22 July 1849 – 19 November 1887)
History: In the Welsh Mabinogion, Helena is described as a Welsh princess. This belief was so rife that it was thought that she ‘commissioned’ a few Roman roads which link Wales from the north to south, and on maps, even today, one of them is known as Sarn Helen (sarn being Welsh for ’causeway’).
Journal: I was speaking to someone who is in London, by ‘phone this morning. I’m still in rugged and wild north Wales, and loving it. And the subject of computers arose. As a ‘side’ theme I happened to mention that I had seen statistics about the effect of the full moon on people, and that there was, statistically, always a slight increase in some crimes at the time of the full moon. I went on to explain that the current theory was that moonlight, lighting up darkened areas quite well, provided enough natural light for house burglary or brought more people out for walks etc and so increased the chance of robbery. The person I was speaking to – about 30yo, and a city-dweller (almost exclusively) – astonished me by doubting that the moon provided that kind of light. ‘It’s pale, it’s insignificant’, they said. ‘It won’t light up anything!’. For one moment I was quite upset for them. ‘When it would be otherwise s pitch black, the full moon provides a lot of light. Maybe not in the city, where its light is overcome with street-lights and neon, but it is bright’, I exclaimed.
And then I asked, ‘So, you’ve never seen your moon-shadow? To which they replied with a plaintive, ‘No’.
And that’s one more reason why I write ‘Ephemera’ periodically: to encourage an appreciation of what’s around us, what we might normally miss and be the poorer for it, and to alert some to that which ‘points’ to the Creator of all. So, have you ever seen your moon-shadow?
End note (Apologetics):
Ephemera, noting moon phases etc is as ‘old as the hills’ and something that ancient tribes, including the Jewish nation of old, and ancient Celts would have done, and indeed, many still do. ‘He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.’ it says in Psalm 104:19, the Book.
Though it may seem strange to some, today – and especially to some Christians who, in their mind’s time-scale, only go back as far as their ‘denominational start-date’ – for the majority of recorded history, including the early Christians, the moon was, indeed, is used to mark the seasons; and referring to it now, is beneficial, I think, as it ‘jars’ us out of our city-orientated ‘supposed-sophistication’ to lift our heads. Then, we are aware of the natural world, to gaze in awe at it, and ponder upon the One behind it all.
I’m also an amateur astronomer with a passionate spiritual belief, and that, especially the former, is another reason for writing the Ephemera post. I apologise if my interest in astronomy offends some.
Horologium: The clock banner-head is accurate, depicting the moon-phase as at the time of the full moon at 10pm on 18 August, mentioned above. The clock face in the banner, albeit ‘computerised’ is modelled on the Prague astronomical clock which was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating, and is similar to those in Cathedrals throughout Europe eg Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Strasbourg, Exeter Cathedral in the UK, and Duomo di Cremona, Italy etc.