Saturday 9 August 2014

Little Gnome Astronomical Fact #4

The Mega and Sturgeon Moon
On August 10th the Moon will be full, nothing new there it happens each month, but this month will be a ‘Mega Moon’, it will look massive when it rises, much bigger than normal.

This is all to do with how the Moon orbits the Earth. Full moons vary in distance  of  between 348,294 km and 398,581 km from the Earth. In August the moon will be 356,896 km the closest this year.

The Moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse rather than a circle and this varies each month, therefore there will be one month in the year when it will be closer than the others. This year it is August.
Each full moon has its own special name most people will have heard of the ‘Harvest Moon’, but in August we have the ‘Sturgeon Moon’.  These moon names go back to medieval times and were often connected with monasteries.

In the 14th century it was decreed by Edward II that if anyone caught a sturgeon in English waters, they were most likely to be caught in August, it had to be offered to the monarch. In other words it was a royal fish.  Caviar comes from Sturgeons.

Sturgeon were regularly caught in the river Don at the beginning of the 20th century and a 200 pound specimen was caught in the river Humber in 1953 and presented to the queen. The installation of locks, weirs together with pollution caused sturgeon to stop swimming from the sea to spawn in English rivers. They are serious predator fish and can grow up to 11 feet long.

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