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Friday, November 2, 2012

Hunter Moon Over Mt. Nimrod

While setting up for a night of observing last week I saw this beautiful near-full moon rising over Mt. Nimrod, just outside of Mitzpe Ramon. This was the full moon of October, called the Hunter Moon by the American Indians, the full moon following the Harvest Moon of September. The Harvest Moon lights the sky for gatherers of the harvest in the fall while the Hunter Moon lights the sky for the hunters of meat needed for the coming winter.

The Hunter Moon of October rising over Mt. Nimrod
I have no idea what this little mountain is actually called, but I observe in its shadow where it shields from the light of Mitzpe Ramon and the desert wind (somewhat). The winter constellation of Orion rises over its peak at about 10:30 this time of year, with Rigel, the brightest star in the constellation, rising directly over the peak from where I observe. It is a lovely sight to behold, a brilliant blue-white star twinkling madly as it rises directly above the top of the mountain.

In Jewish star lore the hunter Orion is identified with Nimrod, the first hunter in the Bible. Thus, my decision to call it Mt. Nimrod instead of Mt. Orion, I think more appropriate for this Holy Land mountain. It is also the test site of Raphael Industries and the IDF's new field radar system, or so I have been told. Here in the lee of the mountain we are also shielded from the light pollution that comes from the test site atop it. For some reason, the testers seem to feel the need to put up klieg lights at night whenever the tests are going on. Recently, tho, they have cut back on the lights, now using a single mercury vapor light instead of a battery of sodium vapor ones. Better, but still not good enough. Light pollution is becoming a big issue in the desert and will be ever more so with plans to move 500,000 new Olim into the desert in the next 10 years.

On the night I took this picture I saw the radar system spinning for the first time. It had always been stationary in the past. Here's a little video of it at work.

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