New Year’s first full moon brings a deep winter chill

  • William Felker
12:00 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017 News
Yellow Springs resident Bill Felker has offered his take on the world of nature for years through radio spots and the written word. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

If New Year’s Eve night wind blow south,

It betokeneth warm and growth;

If west, much milk, and fish in the sea;

If north, much cold and storms there’ll be;

If east, the trees will bear much fruit;

If north-east, flee it, man and brute.

— Folk Rhyme

For the Third Week of Early Winter

Moon Time: On January 1, the Bedding Plant Moon reaches perigee, its most powerful position closest to Earth at 6:54 p.m. and becomes full at 9:24 p.m. When full moon occurs on the same date as perigee, it is often called a “Supermoon.” Rising in the afternoon and setting in the morning, this moon passes overhead (adding the possibility of even more lunar disruption) in the middle of the night.

Sun Time: Sunrise keeps taking place slightly later up until New Year’s Eve. After that, sunrise remains at the same time until January 11 when the Sun finally starts to rise earlier. Perihelion, the point at which the Earth and the Sun are closest to one another, occurs on January 3 at 2:12 a.m.

Planet Time: Find Jupiter and Mars in the southeast before dawn, together in boxy Libra. Saturn follows both Jupiter and Mars in Sagittarius close to sunrise.

POOR WILL’S CLARK COUNTY ALMANACK: Supermoon rings in the New Year

Star Time: Follow Orion during the first months of the year to track the progress of the season. In Deep Winter’s January, Orion’s giant figure fills the southern sky at 11:00 p.m. To his right, the red eye of Taurus (the star Aldebaran) leads the way. Behind him comes Canis Minor and its brightest star, Procyon.

Weather Time: The January 1 Front: The first front of the calendar year is typically severe. After this weather system passes through, the chill of Deep Winter, empowered by the first full moon and lunar perigee of 2018, should bring the most troublesome weather of this winter.

The January 5 Front: A secondary cold front, usually arriving near this date is expected to redouble the cold before moving into the East.

Zeitgebers: Events in Nature that Tell the Time of Year: As daylight starts to increase, spring is waiting: new daffodil and tulip leaves lie just below the surface of the mulch, and the tips of crocus crouch in their beds. Dock, leafcup, buttercup, mint, ragwort, sweet rocket, plantain, thistles, great mullein, moneywort, red clover, celandine, forget-me-not, wild onion, henbit, and ground ivy foliage push every-so-gradually toward March. Multiflora rose buds swell in the Sun. One or two pussy willow catkins crack in the thaws.

Farm and Garden Time: As the barometer falls in advance of winter cold waves, seeds should be especially eager to sprout, In the chicken house, pullets which will produce summer eggs are hatching. Pruning gets underway as average highs in your area drop into the 30s; it continues until highs climb once again past 40. Take out suckers, dead and crossing branches.

Marketing Time: The pre-Lenten carnival season begins in the second week of the New Year, one month before Mardi Gras. Explore marketing lambs for cookouts during this period. Get out your recipies for hot-cross buns, a traditional treat before Lent.

Mind and Body Time: Pines pollinate across the South, and allergy season begins as those allergens travel north on winds from the Gulf. Begin tracking allergic reactions as the winter progresses; you may be able to narrow your window of sensitivity to certain blooming trees and flowers and be better prepared next year..

Lunar power, combined with the long nights, stormy weather and cloudy skies may bring on depression or irritibility this week. On the other hand, the holiday season draws to a close, helping many people to cheer up, and the New Year often brings celebrations, optimistic lists and resolutions to counter the gloom of Deep Winter.

Creature Time (for fishing, hunting, feeding, bird watching): The moon will be passing overhead in the middle of the night this week; therefore, it might make more sense to scout the woods and see what is in the water at the second-best lunar time, the middle of the day. Increase the amount of feed at your bird feeders, and listen for the sharp calls of the tufted titmouse announcing the mating season. And listen for sandhill cranes flying over you toward their winter quarters.


December 25, 2009: I got up about 5:00 this morning in the middle of a Christmas rainstorm, the wind and raindrops pelting the southeast corner of the house. After an hour, the rain stopped, but the wind kept on, and by sunrise, my neighborhood lay in the center of the low-pressure cell, the sky clearing.

Then when I went outside, I found a polygonia comma – an angel-wing butterfly - on the head of the stone crucifix my sister had given me some years ago. The insect must have emerged or was driven from its winter quarters in the storm and had found refuge on the cross.

The polygonias overwinter as adults, so I thought it might have a chance to survive the coming cold. I watched it all day as the temperature held steady in the 40s. I went out to check on it before I went to bed, and it was still there.

December 29, 2009: Titmice were singing about 8:30 this morning, but the polygonia butterfly that arrived in the Christmas storm and perched on the head of the cruicifx between the 25th and the 28th was gone when I went out to the porch once again, its message to me apparently complete.


With winter is here, sunset comes a little later in Clark County

Fall welcomes the Apple Cider Moon, Leonid meteors

Daylight Saving Time comes to an end

First chance for snow flurries