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Illuminating Ways to Moongaze

Apr 04, 2020 12:25PM ● By Nancy DeVault

Our perception of the moon’s appearance fluctuates as it advances through eight distinct phases. Sometimes a crescent hovers above; at other times, the night sky radiates with a full moon. Research suggests that this monthly cycle has a direct impact on the body. Studies correlate lunar periods and sleep patterns; physical and mental performance; menstruation, fertility and births; and unexplained lunacy (stemming from luna, or moon, in Latin). Here are nine illuminating ways to moongaze:


Dare in the Dark: To get a closer look at the moon, brave night owls can climb into safety gear and up a tree at The Canyon’s Zip Line Adventure Park, in Ocala. During the 90-minute full moon tour ($89.99), participates soar across five zip lines and two sky bridges, all while taking in moonlit views of two canyons and four lakes. Stretching 1,150 feet long, the final flight gets every zip liner howling at the moon.


Feel the Gravity of Music: Drum circles can include drumming, dancing, chanting and singing. The June 5 meet-up of the Ocala Drum Circle, slated for 8 p.m. at Muddy Lotus Tea Kava, in Ocala, coincides with the strawberry moon. It won’t appear red; this moon earned its name from Native Americans that harvested strawberries when the moon was full. “We do bless the area and smudge before the circle,” says Ocala Drum Circle Coordinator Aaron Schmidt.


See Stellar Shows: James Albury, planetarium coordinator at the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium, at Santa Fe College, in Gainesville, encourages visitors to, “Keep looking up!” And that’s exactly what guests do while seated in the domed theater. Open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays, the planetarium is equipped with two state-of-the-art projectors that engage lunar learners with shows such as Eclipse, an immersive production of Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor. For more moon mania, catch Music 360: Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon, a presentation bursting with 60 frames per second set to the classic album. Admission ranges $4 to $10.


Observe the Orbit: Beyond the collegiate classrooms, the University of Florida Astronomy Department, in Gainesville, hosts events free to the public on Friday evenings during regular semesters. “At these public observing sessions, we use a variety of telescopes to view different astronomical objects, including the moon, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. We also open the observatory during special events such as solar and lunar eclipses, and transits,” says Professor Elizabeth Lada.


Embrace Lunar Light: We may be familiar with sun salutations, but moon salutations are powerful, too. Instructor Calli Blok leads Full Moon Magic classes at Bliss Yoga Center, in Ocala, because she says the moonlight can shift perception with illumination. “The brightness of the sun can mask things. In the moonlight, nuances can be more noticeable. We can let go of what doesn’t serve us,” Blok says. Participants practice half-moon, crescent moon and other poses while gaining an understanding of energies. “Full moon magic is a yin, feminine practice—warm, introspective, dark and circular. Sun salutations are a yang, masculine practice—hot, fast, sharp and bright,” she notes. Upcoming classes are set for April 7, May 7 and June 5; admittance is donation-based.


Channel Celestial Coasting: Santa Fe Canoe Outpost offers full moon paddles along the slow-flowing Santa Fe River. Participants can coast solo under the stars or sync with a partner aboard a tandem canoe or kayak. Launching in High Springs, the guided trek either goes upstream to River Rise, in O’Leno State Park, or downstream to the U.S.-27 bridge. The moon’s reflection on the still water may inspire paddlers to reflect within themselves. “The personality of the river is completely different at night than during the day. Sights and sounds are different,” says owner Jim Wood. “We see some animals that are nocturnal that we don’t see during the day, like bats.” Paddles are planned for the Saturdays closest to the upcoming full moons on April 4, May 9 and June 6; and priced $55 for a double vessel or $45 for single vessel.


Try a Reel Revolution: According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the moon phases have a real impact on fishing. “A full moon means the tide movement is a lot greater, and so fish are more active,” says Hunter Brasington, a fishing expert at Gary’s Tackle Box, in Gainesville. “Fishing can be the best during a full moon or new moon,” he says. He recommends customers cast during the full moon at Orange Lake and Lake Santa Fe.


Pinpoint the moon: Inspired by the Japanese tradition to treat children with shonishin around the full moon, Gainesville Family Wellness hosts Full Moon Kids Clinics to help youth maintain good health and immunity. “It is a preventative treatment as well as one that can benefit sleep, digestion and balancing the mood/emotions,” says Gainesville-based acupuncturist Rebecca Wayne. She says this kid-friendly acupuncture method replaces needles with metal tools that tap, rub and brush acupuncture points. Clinics are scheduled for April 8 and May 6; slots are $25.


Visit a Viewing Village: Members of the Chiefland Star Party Group can view the sky from the Chiefland Astronomy Village. The assembly aims to “engage in and promote star parties in Chiefland, Florida, as well as offering the amateur astronomy community an unequalled place to observe.” Imaging workshops are set around the new moon, with this month’s event planned for April 23 to 25. Membership is $45 to join with $30 annual renewals.


View the complete full moon calendar at