A new moon, literally speaking... sorry to all the Twilight movie fans but I'm not referring to the New Moon movie, not today anyway...
So today we have a new moon. In astronomical terms, the new moon is when the Moon lies between the Earth and the Sun and is therefore not visible to the naked eye. (When this happens, the dark - unilluminated - part of the Moon faces directly toward Earth.)
So for all my life new moons have come and gone and I really never noticed... but as my curiosity wanders I realize that the new moon is very important to many people. And this morning I looked at my calendar which happens to say New Moon and I really had no idea what the significance is or why it is being noted - its not a holiday after all or is it?? Here are some interesting tidbits primarily from our friends at Wikipedia:
- The Islamic calendar has an observational definition of the new moon - it is only recognized when the first crescent is actually seen making it impossible to be certain in advance when a specific month will begin - wow!! (This also means that the exact date on which Ramadan will begin is not known in advance.)
- In Saudi Arabia, if the weather is cloudy when the new moon is expected, observers are sent up in airplanes.
- In Pakistan, there is a committee of religious scholars that uses 150 observatories all over the country in order to announce the sighting of the new moon.
- In Iran, there is also a special committee that uses one hundred groups of observers to determine the new moon.
- The Hindu people generally wait for a new moon to start new works. The new moon is quite significant for them.
- For the Jewish people, the new moon signifies the start of every Jewish month. According to Jewish tradition, the Jewish calendar is calculated based on mathematical rules handed down from God to Moses to make sure that Passover always falls in the springtime. This calculation makes use of a formula used by Ptolemy and handed down from Babylonians which is still very accurate: 29.530594 days vs the present value of 29.530589. The difference of only 5 millionths of a day adds up to about only 4 hours since Babylonian times (that would be almost 4,000 years ago!). Crazy interesting....
- And lastly the new moon is very important in astrology, as is the full moon. The new moon is considered a 'power period', a time of new beginnings, a window each month to plant seeds of intention. Some astrologers liken these days to 'wishing' days - in which your wishes have the power to come true.
So, pretty interesting how may people really pay attention to new moons. I will probably forget most of these tidbits but the one thing I will know is that a lot of people do not take it lightly. And I will probably remember the last point, when I do notice the new moon, I will plant some intentions/wishes - like wishing upon a star but dealing with the moon? :-)
So tonight, wish upon the moon and may all your wishes come true...