Thursday, March 1, 2012

Jeudi: Weather-Wise

Yesterday at Triple P, I talked about forecasting weather at sea by the look of the moon. This got me thinking about doing the same by land, and digging around in my notes on old wives’ tales for anything on the moon and weather. As it turns out, there have been many beliefs from ancient times about heavenly bodies telling us what to expect weather-wise. And the night sky has not been left out by half.

In the ancient world, particularly in the Near East and Egypt, a red moon was a sure sign not only of turbulent, dry weather, but also death. In Medieval Europe, the opposite seems to be the case as long as the ruddy moon appeared in August or September when it was the sign of good weather throughout harvest season.

A moon with a ring around it – often spoken of in 16th and 17th century lore as “the moon wearing a veil” – was a sign of rain.

The full moon was considered a favorable weather sign in Ancient Rome if it was not blocked by clouds. This continued to be the case until the early modern period, when the fear of witches congregating under full moons tainted a previously happy time.

Stars, too, were thought to foretell the weather both in the short and long term. Bright stars, particularly in a winter sky, foretold a clear day to follow. Dim stars covered by fog or mist were a portend of snow or sleet. Venus, the morning and evening star, was said to hint at the growing season when she rose in the springtime sky. If she stayed low and hugged the land, summer would be cool and crops would grow indifferently. If the star was high in the evening, and particularly if she was seen shimmering before the sunset, then a glorious summer and banner crops were surely in the offing.

Header: Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent van Gogh c 1888


Timmy! said...

Well, I guess that answers my question, Pauline...

Pauline said...

It's one of the reasons I did the post. There's a lot of overlap in the wisdom of sailors and old wives ;)