Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

"Last night the moon had a golden ring--"

Last night (October 29th) the moon was full and visible, initially through a light overcast, which then cleared a bit, revealing a very marked ring around the moon, at least twenty times the moon's diameter. I was a bit chilled by that, recalling:

"Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
"I pray thee, put into yonder port,
For I fear a hurricane.

"Last night, the moon had a golden ring,
And to-night no moon we see!"
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,
And a scornful laugh laughed he."

Which is from Longfellow's "The Wreck of the Hesperus " where indeed a hurricane is in the offing. And, we have had a sailing ship go down in the great storm, the Bounty, sunk off North Carolina with one crew now confirmed dead and her captain still missing. At least most of the crew were saved, unlike the unfortunate Hesperus, which, in the poem, was lost with all hands.

The ring around the moon was due to ice crystals in the upper atmosphere, which were quite likely outriders from the collision of Hurricane Sandy and cold air masses riding down the jet stream. It's rather sobering to think that we in Wisconsin are feeling the fringes of an Atlantic storm, but that is the case. Wind gusts of up to 45 MPH are predicted, with 15 foot waves on the Lake Michigan shore and possible 30 foot waves in the center of the lake. Both lake ferries have wisely canceled trips for today.

Gusty winds are nothing new to us here, of course, and we all expect to be safe and snug. Here's hoping that those in the more direct path of the storm can be as safe.


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Tags: nature, science
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