Every night we witness the different phases of the Moon, one of the most spectacular celestial objects in our night time sky. The Moon is our very own satellite and since the beginning of mankind it has been the subject of much speculation, wonder and research.
We now know the Moon has a strong influence on life on earth and on our planet itself. This is not just on the tides but the Moon also has an affect on weather, animals, earth cycles and man’s behaviour.
The gravitational attraction of the Sun and Moon produce the alternating rise and fall of sea levels. The strongest upward pull affects the part of the earth’s surface that is closest to the Moon and as the Moon pulls at it, the sea will bulge upwards. The Moon is actually pulling at everything on earth but it is water the earth cannot hold onto and because water is always moving, each day there are two high tides. Correspondingly, on the opposite side of our world, the Moon’s pull is at its weakest.
When there is a Full Moon or New Moon, especially high and low tides can be expected and this is because during these times the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are combined. These are called Spring Tides although they aren’t related to the spring season but to the phases of the Moon.
To understand the Moon’s influence on Earth is also to understand the major lunar cycles. As well as the progression of phases from the New Moon to the Full Moon and back, there is the cycle of time that it takes for the Moon to make one complete revolution in its orbit around the earth. It takes approximately 29.5 days for the Moon to complete its cycle from one New Moon to the next. Many people believe this lunar cycle can affect weather, animals, plants and human behaviour.
Moon cycles and weather ~
A study by Bradley, Woodbury and Brier in 1962 looked at the combined rainfall data of over 1500 weather stations in North America over a 50 year period and it was found that rain was heaviest a few days after both the New Moon and Full Moon. Rain was at its lowest just before a New Moon or Full Moon. Further research by an independent team resulted in a similar conclusion.
Moon cycles and plants ~
Farmers from days of old would use almanacs to check on the Moon’s phases before deciding when to plant, what to plant and when to harvest. There are well established beliefs linking the Moon’s phases and agriculture. It has been found that lunar phases control the amount of moisture in the soil. Just like the tides, the Moon also pulls on other bodies of water, causing moisture to rise up in the earth making this an appropriate time to plant seeds. Seeds absorb most water at the time of a full moon.
Lili Koliso, writer of the book “The Moon and Plant Growth” conducted a number of experiments over a number of years and found that corn and other plants sown two days before the Full Moon grew larger than if they were planted two days after a Full Moon.
Many farmers also use the astrological signs the Moon is travelling through to determine the best times to carry out certain tasks. When the Moon is in Cancer for instance, which is a Water sign, this is a good time for planting, transplanting and irrigation. When the moon is in Capricorn, an Earth sign, this is a good time for planting potatoes and root crops, for pruning and for applying organic fertiliser.
Moon cycles and animals ~
The feeding habits of many fish in the ocean vary depending on the phase of the moon. Scientific research suggests that fish are more active four days leading up to a Full Moon and during the four days after a New Moon. Salmon will move from salt water into fresh water at the time of the Full Moon. Sea horses usually mate under a full moon while researchers have also discovered that frogs, toads and newts all use the lunar cycle to co-ordinate their gatherings to ensure enough males and females come together at the same time in order to mate. It is believed that this is a worldwide phenomenon.
Understanding the Moon’s influence on earth quakes
Seismologists have found that earthquake counts increase as the Moon comes closer to the Earth and also when it is a Full Moon. Many earthquakes, it has been found, happen within a day or so of the New Moon or Full Moon. It is thought that the Moon’s tug on the Earth not only has influence on the tides but may also influence earthquake activity.
The gravitational forces between the Earth, the Sun and the Moon cause some interesting affects, many of which can be explained scientifically. Others can be observed and their reasons speculated on but one thing is for certain: man will never cease to be fascinated and affected by the Moon’s influence on the Earth.