Mother’s Moon and its eclipse

May 26, 2021 | 15 Sivan 5781 | Phoenix, Arizona

Some call today’s full moon, May 26, 2021, Mother’s Moon. According to Wikipedia, this full moon has a variety of names such as: Flower Moon, Milk Moon, Corn Planting Moon, Grass Moon, as well as Mother’s Moon.

Generally, these names correspond to the state of nature or agriculture. This time of year is the time to plant corn in the temperate zone of North America. Flowers are blooming; grass is growing after lying dormant all winter. However, it’s not apparent to me why this full moon should be called the Milk Moon.

What about about Mother’s Moon? I thought about it and came up with a guess. May is the month of Mother’s Day in American culture. So the full moon of this month is dedicated to mothers.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac gives its own list of full moon names.

The Farmers’ Almanac gives a list.

Surprisingly, the British don’t tell us that their list consists of traditional English names. Maybe this is self-evident since the web site is based in the United Kingdom. See the Royal Museums Greenwich.

UCL, London’s Global University , lists the names of the full moons that “were popular in England between the 17th and 19th centuries.” (The name ‘UCL’ has superseded the earlier name of ‘University College London’.)

These are pictures of this full moon:

It’s a hazy night sky and the eclipse is beginning, but my camera can’t get a good picture.

The eclipse is underway. The full eclipse will be visible only once it sets behind the tree line. I didn’t plan to be in a higher place.

Other excitement for the day: Later in the morning, standing where I took the second picture, a coyote crossed the street; then, as I was walking home from my morning walk, a coyote loped across another street. It could have been the same coyote.

A blessed day indeed.

22 members of an extended family killed in Gaza in an Israeli air strike

NPR reports this story about the recent Gaza-Israeli war:

… about 22 members of the extended Qalaq family are gone. No other family in Gaza lost as many relatives in this war.

As it is, this is a remarkable story. Very sad.

But it’s not the whole story.

NPR continues to report that survivor Azam, a mechanical electrician

struggles to comprehend. Israel did not call them to warn them of the strike like the military did with many other civilians, allowing them to escape before their homes were bombed.

Reporter Daniel Estrin doesn’t follow up by noting this extraordinary fact, that Israel calls Gazan non-combatants to warn them of an air strike.

Now what army warns non-combatants to expect a bomb strike? This itself should be a featured story.

I don’t know why a respectable journalist would miss a crucial angle to his story. I don’t want to speculate. I just don’t know.

Hamas in Gaza gets what it wants

Hamas, the political arm of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, governs Gaza. They’ve engaged in a massive attack on Israel with rockets that reached population centers. They launched roughly 4,000 rockets, without guidance, for 11 days at Israel’s civilian population. Most were intercepted and destroyed in the air.

Hamas says that it wants Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, an end to the blockade of Gaza, a Palestinian state with its capital in Eastern Jerusalem, as well as a return of 1948’s refugees to Israel. But, this is only their rallying cry.

What Hamas and Islamic Jihad really want is fourfold: to terrorize Jews in Israel, to create martyrs, to get international attention and sympathy, and to cause international pressure to bear down on Israel. Each Gazan killed in Israeli air strikes is accorded a martyr’s funeral, and by their reckoning there are 248 dead — 248 fresh martyrs. (Let’s see if there are really 248 funerals.)

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also succeeded in terrorizing Jews in the south and in central Israel, the largest part of Israel’s population. Rockets even reached near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Foreign carriers ceased to fly into and out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, seriously interfering with the tourism industry.

Hamas has gotten international attention. The situation in Gaza has aroused the concern of the United Nations. Egypt and Qatar brokered a ceasefire. U.S. President Joe Biden mildly chastised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

By my reckoning, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have succeeded. They’ve achieved their goals. Israel can’t win. All Israel can do is bide time until the next attack and put up with sporadic rocket attacks that anywhere else would be considered acts of war.

Can Gazans be so irrational? They’re no closer to a Palestinian state than before — even farther away. Is terrorism really an effective tool to get Israel to withdraw from the West Bank? (Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and look at what they got in return.)

But, is it actually irrational to get what you really want?

A year of 355 days and Hebrew numerology

When the Hebrew year is twelve months long, it has 353, 354, or 355 days. I write “when” because every two or three years a 13th month is added.

Let me explain. The Hebrew calendar is governed by the moon. Each month starts with the sighting of the new moon (in Jerusalem) and lasts until the next new moon. The moon’s cycle is a little less than 29 1/2 days long. Twelve of these months amounts to a year of 354 days. This is 11 1/4 days short of the solar year of 365 1/4 days. If the Hebrew calendar only had 12 months every year, it would fall back 11 days every year and cease to be in sync with the seasons. So a thirteenth month is added.

Sometimes the twelve months of the year total 353 days because the moon’s cycle is a little less than 29 1/2 days.

So where does the number 355 come into this? Every so often the first day of the new year is pushed back one day so that the holidays fall on predetermined days and not on others. This deferment amounts to a year of 355.

I’m especially interested in the number 355. The Hebrew word for year is shana. The numeric value of this word is 355.

So, there we have a year equaling 355 in more ways than one.

Unloved and unwanted

Stinknet is a noxious and invasive weed. It’s alien to America’s Southwest. It’s taking over parkland and fields.

When I’m walking for exercise, I’ve come to pulling these plants out whenever I see them, bagging them, and discarding them in my dumpster. I did this today with one patch and filled a trash bag. There is some other trash in this bag, but mostly it’s filled with Stinknet.

There are still two remaining patches near where I live which I’ll attack in due time — before it’s too hot to do gardening, which is after Memorial Day here in Phoenix, Arizona. As it is, I could only work in the sun for an hour after sunrise.

It’s beautiful but unwanted. A Cow Tongue Prickly Pear is growing behind the Stinknet.

Some trash — “roadside harvest” — lies under the Stinknet. Still, the bag is mostly filled with Stinknet.

Cow tongue prickly pear

Early May 2021 | Phoenix, Arizona

One type of Prickly Pear that is used here as an ornamental plant is the Cow Tongue Prickly. Instead of ovoid, its pads are shaped like — cow tongues. I don’t see much of a difference between its flowers and those of the Engelmann’s Prickly Pear. The last picture here is of a flower of an Engelmann’s with a bee feeding on it.

Cow Tongue and Engelmann’s are not different species. They are varieties of the same species, Opuntia engelmannii. Engelmann’s variety is engelmannii. Cow tongue is inguiformis. This is according to Wikipedia, “Opuntia engelmannii.”

Engelmann’s Prickly Pear flowers look like those of a Cow Tongue’s (previous photo). It seems to me that bees have unpacked the stamens in this flower.

The ‘Pink’ supermoon

April 26, 2021 | 14 Iyar 5781 | Phoenix, Arizona

This full moon is called by some the Pink Moon — probably for pink flowers that bloom at this time of year. The moon itself doesn’t appear pink. CNN has an article about this Pink supermoon.

It is called a “supermoon” because it appears larger in the nighttime sky than other months. Its larger appearance is because it is closer to Earth than in other months.

This year, the Muslim holiday Ramadan began at sunset April 12th with the sighting of the first new moon after the spring equinox. Fasting begins at sunrise every day since then. This full moon of Ramadan is the second one after the spring equinox this year.

The Jewish holiday Passover fell on the previous full moon, the first after the spring equinox. I don’t have pictures of that full moon as I do for previous full moons because it’s forbidden to take pictures on the holiday.

Ramadan this year corresponds to the Jewish month Iyar. I write “this year” because next year it will begin about 11 days earlier than this year on the civil calendar. That could be in Nisan, the month before Iyar. The Muslim year is an unchanging twelve-month lunar year. Since it is shorter than the solar year, the Muslim months fall back relative to the seasons.

The Jewish lunar year would also fall back if not for an extra month that is added every two or three years. The rules for determining each year’s calendar are complicated but fixed. The rules appear in Maimonides’ Code of Jewish Law, the Mishneh Torah.

Here are two pictures from this morning, well before dawn. By dawn the moon had set. I’ll try to be out and about tomorrow before the moon sets.

About two hours before sunrise
Framed by palm trees about one hour before sunrise