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Friday, February 10, 2017

Avoid Chess Clubs and Deciding on Correspondence Game Moves Tonight

     A full moon, lunar eclipse and a comet are coming tonight! It will start early Friday evening with February’s full moon, called the Snow Moon. See USA Today for maps and times HERE.
     Instead of seeing a traditional round circle lighting up the sky, people will observe a penumbral eclipse when the moon, sun and Earth align to create a subtle shadow. Penumbral eclipses can be difficult to see because they are less dramatic than a total or partial eclipse. But this one will likely appear as a dark shading across the moon’s surface.
     The name given to February’s full moon may be unfamiliar to some but it is ages old with a long history behind it. In North America, each monthly full moon takes on its own name which is usually related to changes in the weather or the seasons. Full moon names date back to Native Americans, where the tribes kept track of the seasons by naming each month’s full moon. European settlers went on to follow a similar custom while also creating some of their own names. February’s full moon is named for snow since it is usually the year’s snowiest month. 
     Because the lunar month is 29 days long on average, the dates of each full moon shift each year. This year, Friday the 10th to Saturday the 11th marks the date for the Snow Moon. Unlike events like the Blood Moon, the Snow Moon isn't a scientific phenomenon. 
     In the US people on the east coast will first be able to see the Earth’s shadow around 5:32 p.m., and the moon will grow dimmer over the next few hours and the eclipse will peak at 7:43 p.m. Eastern Time.  It should take another two hours for the moon to get back to normal and by 9:55 p.m. it will be completely outside Earth’s shadow. Check your local listing for times in your area. 
     Comet 45P, known as the New Year comet, was discovered in 1948 and has been making its way to earth since the end of 2016 and should be visible to the naked eye.  
     When the Moon is full, some people go crazy. It’s called the lunar effect. Is it a myth? The word lunatic comes from lunaticus, meaning “of the moon” or moonstruck. It was more a popular term during the late 1800’s, but not used much today. 
     People have theorized for thousands of years that the moon has all kinds of impacts from affecting fertility, crime rates to increased blood loss during surgery. Greek philosopher Aristotle and Roman historian Pliny the Elder suggested that the brain was the “moistest” organ in the body and therefore most susceptible to the influences of the moon. 
     Belief in the “lunar lunacy effect” or “Transylvania effect” persisted in Europe through the Middle Ages, when humans were reputed to turn into werewolves or vampires during a full moon. An increase in erratic behavior, suicides, homicides, emergency room visits, traffic accidents and even dog bites are attributed to a full moon. In 2007 several police departments in the UK even added officers on full-moon nights in an effort to cope with presumed higher crime rates. 
     Some claim it’s all a myth. They point out that even though we experience two high and two low tides every day, if the moon had any effect on the motion of blood in our bodies due to gravity, then you should experience a similar response in an elevator. 
     Full moons have nothing to do with its distance from the earth. The moon travels an elliptical orbit and n can be full and close (supermoon) or it can be full and farther away (minimoon). 
     Others have claimed it has nothing to do with gravity as such. Like Aristotle and Pliny the Elder, they claim the effect is the result of the full moon’s influence on water in the body, especially the brain. The full moon somehow disrupts the alignment of water molecules in the nervous system. 
     But, scientists claim the gravitational effects of the moon are far too minuscule to generate any meaningful effects on brain activity. Second, the moon’s gravitational force affects only open bodies of water, such as oceans and lakes, but not contained sources of water, such in jugs, bottles and the human brain. Third, the gravitational effect of the moon is just as potent during new moons when the moon is invisible to us as it is during full moons. 
     In 1985, scientists did a study looking at 37 separate research papers that studied the moon’s impact on people and found papers that demonstrated a correlation. They also found the "research" was riddle with errors. The naysayers claim we just notice more coincidences when there happens to be a full moon, but don’t notice notice them so much when the moon isn't full. It's Confirmation Bias at work. 
     The conclusion is that it is a scientific fact that full moons do not affect behavior. Still, science has been wrong before.  Just to be safe, I wouldn't play any chess tonight...you might make a blunder.

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