These celestial bodies come in every size from cubes, to islands, to kebs to full moons. Today it is the hunter’s moon that glows orange to the moon’s left that is luminous and—if that we use a less metaphorical version of this word—“bear-like.” Why is the hunter’s moon such a striking sight? It turns out, there are more answers than one.
First of all, why is the moon’s left side (which typically has the blue line, the right side, which usually is darker than the left) lit only by the orange colors?
A new and very spooky hypothesis put forth by Sarah Chayes and Philip Shepherd points to our climate’s changing climatic conditions. Our changing climate, plus a slight shift to our nighttime period in our early West Coast cultures, could have set the stage for how the hunter’s moon would eventually grow in its later eastern time zone-on the coasts, for example.
A hunter’s moon is actually a moon that is on an east-west path that swings northward and southward over time. This unusual cycle, which involves moon cycles that span 10,000-15,000 years, explains why it changes colors.
According to the researchers, this moon’s northern tilt was altered a bit and the new moon become closer, which brought about the bright hue of the moon. While the new moon—tetrad—typically occurs on the next to the last full moon of the month, or more accurately at the 20th of the month, this hunter’s moon arrives on the 27th of the month.
The moon has always been thought of as a symbol for hunting and hunting skills, since it is the moon that represents our own mortality. One theory which was also floated by the researchers suggests that the hunter’s moon could also mean “ballet” and a period of donning clothes—like we would do during winter. Another possibility is the moon can be seen symbolizing the days lost in the wilderness when we are human beings before we evolved.
The reddish hue of the hunter’s moon can also be seen in Mars’ red hues—though that color did not change all that much with time.
So how do we know the hunter’s moon was a hunter? How did the moon turn orange? Back in 1989, scientists collected satellite images of both the moon and Mars, in order to see the dramatic variations in the colors of the two objects, according to the BBC.
The images showed just how the sun’s rays affected our Earth’s moon and Mars. According to the researchers, sunlight would bend slightly due to the distance between the two bodies, and the reflected, extra light is most likely how that color change was derived.
The new findings from the research team will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, and will help offer a better understanding of how the Moon and planets like Mars change their colors through time.