Ten Common Moon Myths

Ten Common Moon Myths

As the closest celestial body to our Earth, the Moon has developed a number of myths about itself over the years and across the globe.

Myth #1: The Moon changes size. The Inuit people that live in Greenland named their Moon god Anningan. According to his story, Annigan chases his sister Malina, the Sun goddess, around the sky. This tiring work, paired with a lack of food, causes Annigan to get much thinner. This myth was an attempt to explain the phases of the moon as it recedes from a full moon to a crescent.

Myth #2: There are multiple moons in a given year. In ancient China, there were believed to be twelve moons—one for each month of the year. These moons were also thought to be made of water.

Myth #3: Werewolves come out with a full moon. The folklore story of the werewolf perhaps dates as far back as the ancient Greeks and still exists worldwide today. It supposes that a cursed human shape-shifts into a wolf at the dawning of a full moon.

Myth #4: All moon landings were an expensive hoax. Some skeptics today still hold out in disbelief about NASA’s landing on the moon. With elaborate stories about movie sets and faked photographs, they refuse to believe that any moon landing was real.

Myth #5: Blue moons are colored blue. While this would be a sight to see, it is a commonly mistaken misnomer. Blue moons are simply the fourth full moon to occur in a season, since most seasons only have three full moons.

Myth #6: A full moon can cause lunacy. Some police and hospital workers still claim that people are wilder on a full moon. There has not been any substantial statistical evidence for this claim though.

Myth #7: The Earth’s shadow causes the phases of the Moon. The phases of the Moon are actually caused by the position of the Moon relative to the Sun. It is always lit up, but that half may not be completely visible from Earth. The only time that the shadow of the Earth interferes with the Moon is in a lunar eclipse.

Myth #8: The Moon reflects everything. The Moon lights up the sky nightly, but only about 7% of sunlight that hits the Moon is reflected. The brightest parts of the Moon are still only about 30% reflective.

Myth #9: The Moon doesn’t rotate. The Moon always keeps the same face to Earth because it is locked to the greater mass of its primary. In order to keep the same side facing the Earth, the Moon must counter-intuitively rotate slowly, so as to seem as though it doesn’t rotate at all.

Myth #10: The Moon brings love. In Chinese folklore, Yue-Laou is an old man in the moon who unites predestined couples together. British women as well, who hoped to receive a dream about their true love would recite the following verse under a New moon: “New moon, new moon, I hail thee! By all the virtue in thy body, grant this night that I may see he who my true love is to be.” The Moon has also traditionally been appealed to in order to bring fertility.