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Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new

GUEST,TheOldMole 21 Feb 04 - 08:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Feb 04 - 08:42 PM
GUEST,TheOldMole 21 Feb 04 - 08:45 PM
Suffet 21 Feb 04 - 11:01 PM
GUEST 21 Feb 04 - 11:08 PM
Suffet 22 Feb 04 - 12:19 AM
masato sakurai 22 Feb 04 - 02:44 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Feb 04 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,John Hernandez 23 Feb 04 - 09:12 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Feb 04 - 09:27 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Feb 04 - 09:33 AM
GUEST 23 Feb 04 - 05:34 PM
TheBigPinkLad 23 Feb 04 - 05:52 PM
pavane 24 Feb 04 - 02:30 AM
KateG 24 Feb 04 - 01:34 PM
Janice in NJ 24 Feb 04 - 11:18 PM
Sandy Paton 24 Feb 04 - 11:52 PM
pavane 25 Feb 04 - 02:32 AM
Wolfgang 25 Feb 04 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Rosemary 09 Feb 16 - 09:09 PM
Gallus Moll 10 Feb 16 - 06:04 PM
Gutcher 10 Feb 16 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,Mrr 10 Feb 16 - 08:58 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 11 Feb 16 - 08:18 AM
Gutcher 11 Feb 16 - 01:11 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: GUEST,TheOldMole
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 08:31 PM

What's the story on the auld moon with the new moon in her arms? Is it a phase of the moon, or some other odd weather condition? Is it something sailors normally watch out for?

I can understand why you'd worry if last night the moon had a golden ring, and tonight there's no moon. But the auld moon with the new moon in her arms has always baffled me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 08:42 PM

It's called Earthshine. Like Moonshine, if you were on the Moon, but a whole lot brighter, because the Earth is much bigger. A New Moon in our sky means a Full Earth in the Lunar sky.

So when the conditions are right, it's possible to see the disc of the Moon faintly visible, lit up by the Earthshine. Not with the light pollution nwe have in most places these days, but they didn't have that in the time of Sir Patrick Spens.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: GUEST,TheOldMole
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 08:45 PM

Yeah -- I've seen the new moon. I live pretty far out in the country. But is it an omen, or a real weather predictor?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: Suffet
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 11:01 PM

Greetings:

Yes, it's called earthshine, but it needs some explanation. Sometimes enough sunlight is reflected from the Earth's surface to faintly illuminate the otherwise invisible New Moon. Put another way, light from the Sun strikes the Earth, is reflected to the Moon, and in turn is reflected back to our receptive eyes back here on Earth.

In the case of Sir Patrick Spens (or Spencer), there was still a thin crescent of the Old Moon shining, probably because it was the night before the true New Moon. That crescent made up the "arms" which held the New Moon, visible because of earthshine. Such a phenomenon was once considered a sign of bad luck.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 11:08 PM

This is the quote:

"I saw the new moon late yestreen
With the old moon in her arm;

I may be reading this wrong, but doesn't this line suggest that it is the other way around?
Or would that be just poetic license?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: Suffet
Date: 22 Feb 04 - 12:19 AM

Greetings:

The lyrics can be found either way, but the phenomenon is the same: earthsine causing the faint illumination of the otherwise unseen Moon.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 Feb 04 - 02:44 AM

(1) From New Scientist The Last Word Science Questions and Answers:
The moonies

Question
On 23 December 1995, around eight o'clock on a clear frosty evening, we were looking out at a gibbous Moon and noticed that the full disc of the Moon could be seen faintly. Most of it looked like a coin, dark grey, with one brightly lit edge. Usually, only the illuminated part of a gibbous Moon is visible. What made the shadowed side visible on this night, but not on others with similar sky conditions and with the same amount of background light from the countryside?

EDWARD RZEMPLUCK , Simon Frazer University British Columbia Canada

Answers
I am afraid that the questioner has his astronomical terms mixed up. A gibbous Moon is one that is between half and full. What he saw was a very new crescent Moon--one between new and half (the new Moon itself having occurred only the day before).

The explanation for the faint illumination of the rest of the Moon's disc is very simple. If one thinks about the relative positions of the Earth and the Moon when the Moon is new, one can work out that the Earth is full (when viewed from the Moon) when the Moon is new (when viewed from the Earth). The full Earth in the Moon's sky is a very bright object, being both larger and of a higher albedo than the full Moon, and the faint illumination of the rest of the crescent Moon's disc is simply due to the earthlight being reflected back to Earthbound observers.

This phenomenon is most easily viewed when the Moon is a very thin crescent because the Earth is then at its brightest in the Moon's sky and because the relatively faint illumination of the dark part of the disc is easily drowned by moonlight when the Moon is older.

Stewart Lloyd , Brigg South Humberside   

This unusual appearance of the part of the Moon which is not illuminated by the Sun can only be caused by an unusually high albedo of the part of Earth which is still in daylight, while its reflected sunlight strikes the Moon.

This implies dense layers of cloud not far beyond the observer's western horizon. For sailors, this could well be a sign of an approaching cyclone.

This phenomenon has, from early times, forecast disaster (a safe bet, because disasters always occur, even without the aid of omens). A particular example appears in the Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens:

I saw the new moon late yestere'en With the auld moon in her arm And if we put to sea this night I fear we'll come to harm

John Woodgate , Rayleigh Essex   

The eastern hemisphere has much more land surface than the western hemisphere, so the effect is actually more noticeable in the days before the new Moon. Seawater has a much lower reflection index than land does.

Knowing this and measuring the intensity of the earthshine, ancient astronomers had figured out that somewhere in the southern seas a great landmass ought to be present. This land was, in due course, discovered and named Australia.

Richard Keijzer , Hilversum The Netherlands
(2) From Astronomy 2:
Man and the Moon (1997)

Astronomers have long been puzzled by the formation of the Moon. It has now (1999) thought to have a very small iron core and has a correspondingly lower density than the Earth. It is also a large body relative to the size of its parent. These unusual characteristics have led to speculation that a large wayward body hit the Earth off-centre soon after its formation, resulting in vast quantities of Earth material to vaporise and settle in a surrounding orbit. Recently a team of American and Japanese astronomers, using simulations with the help of a powerful computer, have concluded that a body three times the size of Mars impacting on the early Earth could have produced the right amount of material. Most of the debris fell back to Earth but the remainder very quickly accreted into the Moon. The Moon has had an important influence on human beings over scores of centuries and is also the main cause of ocean tides. Its romance is expressed in so much poetry and it is a beautiful object in the sky. Its mountains, craters and plains can easily be seen through quite small binoculars. It always displays the same side towards Earth (59% can be seen at one time or another) and it was only 30 years ago when photographs of the other side became available to human kind. It is sometimes possible to see the dark part of the near-new moon. What actually happens is that the Sun's reflection from the daytime Earth bounces back to the Moon and it is called earthshine. It is a very strange sight and can normally be seen in winter time only just before dawn on a waning Moon a day or so before new Moon or just after dusk on a waxing Moon a day or two after new Moon. This effect was sometimes known by country people as the 'stork' (first quoted in 1750). Also known as 'the old moon in the new moon's arms' (Sir Patrick Spens 17??), and 'I see the old Moon in her lap' (Coleridge 1802).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Feb 04 - 10:16 AM

The Coleridge quote (from the Ancient Mariner) which is like this, and was very likely inspired by the ballad, but is significantly different, is in this verse:

We listened and looked sideways up !
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip !
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steerman's face by his lamp gleamed white ;
From the sails the dew did drip--
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornéd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: GUEST,John Hernandez
Date: 23 Feb 04 - 09:12 AM

How could that possibly happen? It would mean that the star was between the moon and the earth!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Feb 04 - 09:27 AM

Refraction.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Feb 04 - 09:33 AM

Well, maybe it didn't happen. It's a poem Coleridge made up.

On the other hand it could be a mountain top catching the light while the lower surface around it was still in darkness.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Feb 04 - 05:34 PM

Considering Coleridge's taste in poppy seed derivitives .....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 23 Feb 04 - 05:52 PM

The impossibility of a star in the tip was deliberate forshadowing of doom.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: pavane
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 02:30 AM

The effect was quite clear here last night. The whole of the moon was faintly visible even though it was a crescent moon. Does that mean there is a storm in the Atlantic, just waiting for us?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: KateG
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 01:34 PM

Actually, driving home last night in Northwest New Jersey (USA) we had a lovely example of the new moon with the old one in her arms. Not only was the dark part of the moon illuminated by earthshine, but Venus was brilliant just off the lower tip of the moon. It couldn't have been more glorious.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 11:18 PM

We saw the same from western New York State.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 24 Feb 04 - 11:52 PM

I don't know whether this refers to earthshine or not, but I thought of Sir Patrick Spens when I read it. It's from "Backwoods America" by Charles Morrow Wilson, University of North Carolina Press, 1934. Describing superstitions he found among our mountain people, Wilson wrote:
    "A white circle about the moon tells of rain or snow, and the number of stars       within that circle tells the number of days until the falling weather begins."
    I assume this refers to a simple "ring around the moon" that may be caused by atmospheric conditions, but I thought it might well be added to this discussion.
    Sandy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: pavane
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 02:32 AM

Actually, I don't think the moon is new yet, it is the waning of the old moon. Since this is visible in the evening, it is probably what Sir Patrick Spens saw anyway. ("Late Yestreen"). The new moon is visible in the early morning.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: Wolfgang
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 11:18 AM

Pavane,

just vice versa. The old moon (C-shape) precedes the sun (best seen in the morning sky), the new moon (mirrored C-shape) follows the sun (best seen in the evening sky).

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: GUEST,Rosemary
Date: 09 Feb 16 - 09:09 PM

In South Africa the belief is that if the new moon lies on its back I.e. both horns pointing upwards, the moon is holding the water and there will be no rain that month.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 10 Feb 16 - 06:04 PM

One of Nancy Nicolson's songs includes lines about the sailor's warning or the new moon with the auld moon in her arms. ~The title escapes me at the moment but I'll ask her to have a look at this thread and tell you more- - -


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: Gutcher
Date: 10 Feb 16 - 06:29 PM

To speakers of Scots in the countryside it is called a BRUCH--with the U as in brother and the CH as in loch and is usually taken as a sign of stormy weather with snow to come.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 10 Feb 16 - 08:58 PM

My kids' other parent used that expression and I always thought it was some Southern (US) thing! Cool, y'all!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 11 Feb 16 - 08:18 AM

The phenomon is fairly common if you happen to look - so few of us seem to look at the night sky these days or are even able to see it for light pollution from cities.

I wonder about the association with bad weather. Weather folklore is usually based on observation rather than superstition. Bad weather in the British Isles usually comes from the west, and a New Moon is in the western sky. If there were a large amount of cloud cover to the west, bringing bad weather with it, this might increase the earth's reflectivity and the amount of earthlight reaching the surface of the moon. The 'old moon in the new moon's arms' would become more visible than usual. Just an idea.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Sir Patrick, the auld moon, and the new
From: Gutcher
Date: 11 Feb 16 - 01:11 PM

Hello Mrr
Interesting to hear that one of our old words is still in use on your side of the pond.






This will no doubt be a throwback to the Scots/ Irish who settled in the Southern States in the early years. These folk carrying words and songs from their country of origin with collectors still coming across versions of ballads which appear to be older than some of the versions collected here.


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