Farmers Almanac
The Farmers Almanac
ORDER our 200th Year
2018 Edition!

What Is A Wet Moon or “Cheshire Moon”? Spot It This Week!

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Add to Google+ Share on Pinterest Subscribe by Email Print This Post
What Is A Wet Moon or “Cheshire Moon”? Spot It This Week!

We all know the Moon goes by many names, and its different visible phases have names that we all recognize — Full, First Quarter, Last Quarter, and Crescent.

But have you ever heard of a Moon referred to as “wet” or “dry”? What about “Cheshire”?

In the evenings during the spring (March, April, May), and in the mornings during the fall (September, October, November), for “temperate” (mid-northern) latitudes, the crescent Moon is oriented in such a manner so as to resemble a “smile” or “boat” with the “horns,” or “cusps,” of the crescent pointing straight up. This is the so-called “wet Moon” because it appears that the Moon is holding water. This Moon is also known as a “Cheshire Moon” because it looks very much like the smile of the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s story about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

In contrast, in the evenings during the fall and in the mornings during the spring, the crescent Moon is turned roughly 90-degrees (sideways), giving the impression that if there was any water being held within the crescent it would appear to spill out. This is the so-called “dry Moon.”

(Continued Below)

Season of year and an observer’s latitude determine the angle the crescent Moon’s cusps make with the horizon. Around the time of the Vernal (spring) Equinox, the ecliptic — that imaginary line in the sky that the Sun, Moon and planets appear to follow in their respective paths against the background zodiacal signs — is oriented almost perpendicular to the western horizon.  So the crescent Moon in the evening sky (the “waxing” crescent) appears like a smile or a boat.

At the time of the Autumnal Equinox, the ecliptic appears much more “slanted” with respect to the western horizon, so the evening crescent Moon is turned about 90-degrees to the left, with the cusps pointing left.  So now, if the Moon were holding water, that water would be emptied out as we have “spilled the contents of the bowl over” to one side.  So we call this a “dry Moon” because the water has been “spilled out.”

But some have been know to call this sideways orientation a “wet Moon” because one could assume the weather will  turn rainy now that the Moon has apparently emptied it contents on us!

For those in the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true — that the familiar “Man in the Moon” (to us) appears upside-down, and the Moon phases are reversed. For example: at first quarter, the bright side is on the right for us, but is on the left for them.

This week, as the Moon waxes into view, March 29-31, the crescent will look more like a cup that might hold water, or the grinning smile of the Cheshire Cat.

We welcome your photos. Share them with us on our Facebook page!

Written with assistance from astronomer Joe Rao.

Articles you might also like...

0 comments

There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment

Note: Comments that further the discussion of the above content are likely to be approved. Those comments that are vague or are simply submitted in order to promote a product, service or web site, although not necessarily considered "spam," are generally not approved.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

Spring Is Here – Sign Up Today!

The Farmers' Almanac is a gardener's best friend. Get 365 days of access to our online weather and gardening calendars + a copy of the 2017 Almanac
for only $13.99 $11.99!

Subscribe Today »