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The Importance Of The Full Moon In The Night Sky

While a full moon can be great for many things, it is usually too bright to study our space neighbor for more than a few moments.

This week there will be a full moon in the sky, completely illuminated as we on Earth sit right between the sun and the moon with all three in a line.

The full moon symbolizes many things in different cultures — from time to religious and spiritual significance. There are even ongoing studies into how the moon can influence our minds and bodies. No matter how you may appreciate a full moon, astronomy contributor Jean Creighton shares her own perspective on the importance of the full moon.

She says while a full moon can be great for many things, it's not the best time to try to study our space neighbor for more than a glance.

“It’s a common idea that people have that well the moon is full, bring out the telescope, bring out the binoculars but in fact, it’s easier to look at the moon for extended periods of time if it’s not so bright,” Creighton says.

For astronomers interested in breaking out the telescope or binoculars, Creighton notes it’s a great time to look for Jupiter and its moons. She explains that Jupiter’s moons are quite significant when it comes to astronomy as famous astronomer Galileo Galilei observed them rotating around Jupiter, helping him understand that the entire universe did not revolve around the Earth.

“This was a major shift, this was sort of the beginning of that shift. No, the Earth is not the center of everything, the sun is at the center of the solar system and that is a philosophical, big moment for our understanding of where we fit in the scheme of things,” she says.

Creighton says when it comes to our moon, it’s important to remember that the moon doesn’t just come out at night. The time it appears is constantly changing, which is why says it so interesting to watch.

“If you do spend the time to slow down a little bit and watch it day in and day out, you see the subtle differences, you see the changes,” she says. “I have enjoyed now in the pandemic a few moon rises and I’d argue they’re almost as pretty as a sunrise.”

Creighton will be leading a full moon hike at the Urban Ecology Center through Riverside Park at 7 p.m. on June 23. She says all ages are welcome.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Dr. Jean Creighton has always been inspired by how the cosmos works. She was born in Toronto, Ontario and grew up in Athens, Greece where her mother claims she showed a great interest in how stars form from the age of five.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.
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