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Q&A: Moon watchers require only heavenly timing

Arise early to enjoy a moon set

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Many years ago, when living in San Diego, my wife and I saw a full moon set over the Pacific Ocean. How often does a full moon set and how soon might one witness this event again, here in the Tampa Bay area?

For this answer we consulted Daryl Schrader, professor emeritus of mathematics and astronomy at St. Petersburg College since 1977 and creator of the monthly astronomy column that has appeared in the St. Petersburg Times since 1990. He writes:

"Perhaps this will help: The full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. When the moon is full it is opposite the sun in the sky and must rise with the setting sun.

"The harvest moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox — that would be on the 12th of this September.

"The moon goes around the earth in about 27.32 days and the interval between similar phases of the moon is about 29.5 days. So it would be possible to have two full moons in one month.

"The moon can give the illusion of being larger when it is near the horizon since the mind has something to compare it to. The full moon and sun are about half a degree across, which allows the moon to just cover the sun, giving us our spectacular solar eclipses."

Lore has it that the harvest moon got its name because it lit the sky enough to help farmers gather their crops in the years before tractors were outfitted with lights.

The name was popularized in a 1903 song, Shine On Harvest Moon, by Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth.

U.S. lost 2 battleships in attack

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, we know several aircraft carriers were sunk by enemy action. Did any other U.S. battleships get sunk?

According to the Naval History & Heritage Command, the only two battleships lost in World War II both sank at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Japanese aircraft destroyed both the USS Arizona, killing 1,177, and the USS Oklahoma, which lost 429 crew.

For a list of all vessels sunk during World War II, see

2 wars, more than 6,000 lives

How many deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq were due to combat, and how many were noncombat related?

As of Aug. 23, there have been 4,408 U.S. military and 13 Defense Department civilian deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom, for a total of 4,421. Of those, 3,489 were the result of combat, and 932 were nonhostile.

There have been 1,635 U.S. military deaths and two Defense Department civilian deaths in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom; 274 were nonhostile. The number of fatalities can be found at

Q&A: Moon watchers require only heavenly timing 08/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 5:33pm]
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