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— Celestial events coinciding with the first day of spring kept the canine members of the Wilson household on high alert. National Geographic described it as a “cosmic triple play,” which meant those in the Northern Hemisphere not hindered by Mother Nature, could see the “super worm moon” light up the vernal equinox. It was the first time a full moon had ushered in spring since the year 2000, and the two won’t happen less than a day apart again until 2030, the astronomy website EarthSky.org, says.

So, a full, super moon on the first day of spring made for the cosmic triple play. My eyes tried to sleep through the four days of fullness, but my dogs had other plans.

The sun and moon have to be lined up on opposite sides of the earth for a full moon to occur.

This lasts a few seconds, but the slow movements make it appear to last longer.

Over a period of about four days, the moon goes from 95 percent illuminated, to full, to 95 percent again. So while a full moon is only a few seconds, the human — and canine — eye sees a length of about four days.

A full moon occurs every 29.5 days, which is the length of time it takes for the moon to orbit the earth and complete a lunar phase cycle. But, what happened last week was different.

The Full Worm Moon was the last full moon of the winter, which signals the start of spring. The temperatures rise and earthworms begin to surface, hence the name. The full moon also was a super moon, meaning it was the closest to the Earth at that time than at any other time during the month.

I have felt in the past that my dogs reacted to a full moon and acted differently than they normally do with an impending full moon. They barked more. I assumed the illuminated sky allowed them to see critter movement they might have missed otherwise. We live in a rural area, so there are many opportunities to see critters — day and night.

Last week’s full moon, however, was different. They barked more, as usual. But they did it all night — and howled. No amount of consoling and unladylike expletives quieted them. They were restless and more hyper than usual.

The pet health and wellness website petplace.com says the full moon influences the psyche of animals with noticeable intensity. “It has been said to increase chaos, and even cause the Earth to shake. Veterinary staff and animal control keep busy during this phase,” petplace.com says. “When an animal is upset during the full moon they tend to be restless.

Dogs and wolves are known to howl during the full moon phases, while birds become agitated and become disoriented. Cats hide. The full moon tends to rattle both humans and our pets’ emotions.”

Animals tend to be ultra sensitive during super moon. “Like humans, the power of the electromagnetic fields during a full moon phase interacts with our own magnetic field increasing the ability to sense or feel the stress around us. The animals tend to notice the interaction quicker as it is part of their survival instincts to stay away from danger,” the website said.

It all makes sense, I suppose, especially when you consider what the weather website accuweather.com says:

“Lunacy and lunatic stem from luna, the Latin word for moon. It is believed that people were more likely to show erratic behavior during a full moon. A publication on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service titled lunar effect-biological tides and human emotions, shows extensive analyses of data on human behavior. Lunar astronomy accurately indicated that the repression of the moon’s gravitational influence brings about social tension, disharmony and bizarre results.”

And accuweather.com also pointed to a study that looked at data over a five-year period from police records in Florida, which showed an increase in cases of homicide and aggravated assault around full moons.

So, it seems, the full moon has the potential to agitate us all — certainly the Wilson fur babies were feeling the gravitational pull.

Shea Wilson is the former managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. Email her at melsheawilson@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter.com @sheawilson7

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