NATURE NOTES - Full moon rising

HAVE you seen the moon these last few night – it looks absolutely massive!

Pity it’s not Halloween (but I suppose it’s close enough) it would make it really spooky then and a good place to watch to see if anyone on broomsticks flies past it!

The moon not only affects things like gravity and tides but also plays a big part in many animals’ lives. The phase of the moon seems to influence the behaviour of a number of animals. In many cases, the animals are simply responding to the changes in light, which may, I suppose, make them more visible to each other or to predators, but it is possible that there are monthly rhythms in operation (as in humans), or that the animals are responding to gravitational effects.

The moon starts off at the new moon where no light is visible. From there it grows through the waxing crescent, first quarter, and waxing gibbous into a full moon. After a full moon, the light dwindles through the waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent back to the new moon.

I did a bit of searching a while ago and found some fascinating facts that are worth sharing again…..

The word ‘lunacy’ is derived from Luna, the Roman goddess of the moon, and from the belief that the power of the moon can cause disorders of the mind.

The time between two successive high and low tides is 12.4 hours while 24.8 hours is a ‘lunar day’. Tides are greatest at new moon, when the gravitational pull of the sun and moon are both acting in the same direction. Because the moon is moving relative to the earth and the sun, the ‘lunar day’ is not precisely 24 hours.

The temperature on the Moon reaches 243° F at midday on the lunar equator. During the night, the temperature falls to -261° F.

Clown fish lay their eggs around the same time as a full moon and the male clown fish guards the eggs until they hatch just over a week later.

While mating, seahorses utter musical sounds. Mating always occurs under a full moon.

Azara’s owl monkey, which lives in subtropical Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay moves around only when the moon is shining.

Biting activity for mosquitoes increases by 500 times when there is a full moon.

Wolves do not howl at the full moon any more often than at any other time of the month. They howl more frequently during the hours around sunrise and sunset, as they are more active then and also howl more often in the winter months than in the summer.

Gerbils in the Negev desert forage more for seeds at new moon than at full, because at full moon they are far more likely to be caught by owls

I suppose the most famous animal associated with the moon is the ‘werewolf’ not that there are that many around these days – or are there?