The Highest Moon of the Year this Thursday: This week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Jan 9, 2017

Full Moon setting into Lake Michigan off the shores of Headlands

If you watch the Moon this week, dancing through the snow clouds, you’ll notice that it’s getting higher and higher in the nighttime sky, all the way until overnight Wednesday, when it mounts itself toward Full Phase Thursday morning and becomes the highest Full Moon of the year.

The Moon will be Full at exactly 6:34 am Thursday, January 12th, which is technically the moment it stops expanding, and gradually starts to shrink. From our perspective on Earth, the Moon is always either becoming larger or smaller, though this happens too slowly for us to discern with the naked eye. So even though the Moon will look really Full Wednesday night, that moment doesn’t come until Thursday morning, when the Moon is as far north of the Sun’s position as it will be all year long.

At such a moment, it’s easy to imagine ancient cultures that tried to lift up the temporal love between human beings and infuse it with the higher love that came from being touched by beings of the heavenly kingdoms.

The Greeks told the tale of Selene, goddess of the Moon, who fell in love with the Shepherd King Endymion. She begged Zeus to grant Endymion eternal sleep, so that she could meet him each night in dream.

Overnight Wednesday, the Moon will be just west of the bright star Pollux, the immortal twin in the constellation Gemini. The year’s highest Moon next to the immortal twin really is all about eternal love, the kind we can sometimes only dream about!

The Moon will be Full Thursday morning, an hour and a half before it sets in the west, but look for it the night before, and before going to sleep, think on these words from John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost”:   
...Silence was pleased: now glowed the firmament
With living sapphires; Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light,
And o’er the dark her silver mantle threw