Earlier this month (February 7, to be exact), was the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat. Like some other Jewish holidays, it occurs on a full moon.
But unlike Purim (the following full moon), Passover (the next full moon after that) or Succot (either a Harvest Moon or Hunter Moon), the Tu B’Shevat full moon happens in the dead of winter. It is also known as the February Moon or Snow Moon. When I was a little kid, standing outside on a cold winter night, I would look up at the Ring Around the Moon, awed by its simple beauty. At the time, my mind, uncluttered as it were with scientific facts, was able to appreciate its heavenly glory with pure innocence.
And it is in the dead of winter that you are most likely to see a Ring Around the Moon, aka a Lunar Halo. Still, thin clouds of ice crystals hang in the cold, wintry sky creating these gorgeous lunar halos. Refraction of moonlight by the hexegonal (six-sided) crystals produce a slightly colored halo with its characteristic radius of 22 degrees.
Luckily, there are times even now when, caught unawares by natures grandeur, I am pulled back to a child-like wonder of nature and the cosmos. It could be anything. The Harvest Moon, huge and warm, emerging just above the dark silhouette of a treeline; the Leonids meteor shower streaking overhead; and on the iciest and coldest of nights, Light Pillars.
I love for moments like these. They make me appreciate life. They make life worth living.