Autumnal Equinox, Full Moon and Jupiter

Tonight, the Chinese will celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节 (also known as Mooncake Festival). This is the time for family get-together, enjoying mooncake and tea, while the children playing with lanterns under the full moon.

The Chinese culture regards the autumnal equinox as mid-autumn and thus the Mid-Autumn Festival. In the Chinese calendar, it is the day that marks the full moon (Day 15) in the 8th Month (八月十五), and it’s usually falls a few days to weeks around the Autumnal Equinox. But this year, it falls exactly on the same day, which is today. In a very technical term, the full moon reaches maximum illumination six hours after the equinox. According to Science@NASA, there hasn’t been a comparable coincidence since Sept 23, 1991, when the difference was about 10 hours, and it won’t happen again until the year 2029.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 中秋节快乐! And while you are at the Moon, don’t forget our big brother Jupiter dazzling nearby, who is also putting its best show in more that a decade.


~ by thChieh on September 22, 2010.

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