The full autumn moon is considered to be the most beautiful moon of the year in China and Japan. It is the first full moon after the autumn equinox, also known as the harvest moon. This year, the harvest moon falls on October 5. You can read more about the harvest moon, here.
Tsukimii or Otsukimi, is the traditional autumn moon-viewing festival in Japan. There are picnics under the stars. People sing songs, and write poems. Rice cakes are served, round as the moon. You can read more here.
The moon is a symbol of many things–change, impermanence, dreams, love. It is our closest companion in the vastness of space, a light at night before there were lights of cities. It is still bright enough to outshine the city lights, and it is often photographed against an urban setting, a contrast to our contemporary world.
It is also pictured over mountains like Mount Fuji, fields, trees, or waves on a beach. It is the changing face of the natural world.
The moon is also often pictured over ancient things–the pyramids, Stonehenge, Roman ruins, a witness to human history.
Maybe it is not surprising then, that the moon became a symbol of human striving, as well as a political symbol in the space race.
Sixty years ago today, on October 4, 1957, the first signals were received from Sputnik, the first satellite sent into space. You could say it was the start of the space age and the space race between Russia and the US. Sputnik was launched from Kazakhstan, where the rockets to the International Space Station are launched today.
There is a replica of Sputnik at the Adler Planetarium. It is round as a basketball, and not much bigger. You can read more about Sputnik courtesy of Space.com here.
The name Sputnik is often translated as “fellow traveller” or a companion on a journey. So, too, the moon is our companion, on our journey through time and space. It is still there, every night, a witness to our lives.
And all over our sad and divided world, we share our hopes and dreams, under this harvest moon.