Daily Mail

Moon’s out of hours cameo

- Richard Foules, Gloucester.

QUESTION Why can you sometimes see the moon during the day?

The Moon doesn’t produce any light, and the only reason we can see it is because we see the light of the Sun reflected off it. We call this moonlight but it isn’t produced by the Moon.

The Moon orbits the earth once every 28 days, approximat­ely. When the Moon is closest to the Sun, the side nearest to us isn’t illuminate­d, so we can’t see it. When it is farthest from the Sun, the side closest to us is illuminate­d, giving us a full moon. At the points between those two extremes, we get the various phases of the Moon as it moves around the earth. We call these phases waxing (growing) and waning (diminishin­g).

however, at the same time as the Moon is orbiting the earth, the earth is also rotating, once every 24 hours. The combined effect of the two motions results in the Moon rising approximat­ely one hour later each day as viewed from the UK.

That cumulative delay in moonrise means that in each 28- day cycle, the Moon will rise after dawn and before dusk for a period of several days and will, therefore, be visible during the day if it is also on the side of the planet where the reflected light is visible from earth.

The visibility of the Moon also depends on the amount of sunlight that is reaching the earth. In the middle of summer, when most sunlight reaches us, the Moon will be much paler in daylight than it is in the winter, and will be most visible in the early morning or evening, when the sunlight is weakest. At the equator, where the most sunlight reaches earth, it may not be visible at all during the day.

Bob Dillon, Edinburgh.

QUESTION Where does the saying clutching at straws come from?

SIR THOMAS More, Lord high Chancellor of england, wrote a parable entitled A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulatio­n in 1534 while imprisoned in the Tower of London, refusing to betray his faith and sign the King’s Act of Supremacy. he became the first to use the metaphor of a drowning man desperatel­y trying to save himself, perhaps reflecting on his own situation as he awaited trial for treason: ‘A man in peril of drowning catchest whatsoever cometh next to hand . . . be it ever so simple a stick.’

An english cleric, John Prime, in his Fruitful And Brief Discourse of 1583, introduced the straw — ‘we do not as men redie to be drowned, catch at every straw’. This improved the metaphor, as straw is a particular­ly useless substance to grasp when drowning.

‘To catch’ was a generic verb used in medieval times with the meaning of obtaining, achieving or capturing. By the 19th century, more specific verbs such as grasp, grab and clutch replaced ‘catch’.

‘Clutch’ was used in the New York Mirror in 1832, ‘as drowning men clutch at straws’. The expression is now figurative­ly used when one is hoping for an unlikely outcome.

Laura Grigg, Lincoln.

QUESTION Did Benjamin Franklin dream up a long list of synonyms for being inebriated?

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, a statesman, diplomat and inventor.

he played a crucial role in drafting the Declaratio­n of Independen­ce and the U.S. Constituti­on, while also making significan­t contributi­ons to the understand­ing of electricit­y and the developmen­t of various practical devices.

he was an elegant and witty writer who liked a drink but despised drunkennes­s.

his list appeared in the January 6, 1737 edition of the Pennsylvan­ia Gazette. Quoting from his own Poor richard’s Almanack, Franklin proclaimed in his prologue to the list that there is ‘nothing more like a fool than a drunken man’.

More than 200 synonyms made the cut, including:

A he is Addled. he’s casting up his Accounts. he is in his Airs.

B he’s Biggy, Bewitch’d, Boozy, Bowz’d, Burdock’d, Buskey, Buzzey, Bungey.

C he’s Cat, Cagrin’d, Capable, Cramp’d, Cherry Merry, Curv’d, Cut, Chipper.

D he’s Disguiz’d, he’s a Dead Man, has Dipp’d his Bill, he’s seen the Devil.

E he’s Cock ey’d, Got the Pole evil, Got a Brass eye, In his element.

F he’s Fishey, Fox’d, Fuddled, Sore Footed, Frozen, Flush’d.

G he’s Glad, Groatable, Gold-headed, Got the Gout, Got the Glanders.

H half and half, hardy, Top heavy, hammerish, Knows not the way home.

I he’s Intoxicate­d.

J Jolly, Jagg’d, Jambled, Going to Jerusalem, Jocular, Been to Jerico, Juicy.

K he’s a King, Clips the King’s english, Seen the French King, Got Kib’d heels. L he’s in Liquor, he makes Indentures with his Leggs, Light, Lappy, Limber.

M he sees two Moons, Merry, Middling, Moon-ey’d, Muddled, Maudlin, Muddy. N he’s eat the Cocoa Nut, Nimptopsic­al, Got the Night Mare.

O he’s oil’d, eat opium, Smelt of an onion, oxycrocium, overset.

P he’s Pungey, Priddy, Been among the Philistine­s, Contending with Pharaoh.

Q he’s Quarrelsom­e.

R he’s rocky, raddled, rich, religious, Lost his rudder, ragged, rais’d.

S he’s Stitch’d, Seafaring, In the Sudds, Strong, Been in the Sun, Swampt, his Skin is full, he’s Steady, he’s Stiff. Been too free with Sir John Strawberry.

T he’s Top’d, Tongue- ty’d, Tann’d, Tipium Grove, Double Tongu’d, Topsy Turvey, Tipsey, has Swallow’d a Tavern Token, he’s Thaw’d, he’s in a Trance, he’s Trammel’d.

V he makes Virginia Fence, Valiant, Got the Indian Vapours.

W The Malt is above the Water, he’s Wise, he’s Wet, he’s been to the Salt Water, he’s Water-soaken, he’s very Weary, out of the Way.

IS THERE a question to which you want to know the answer? Or do you know the answer to a question here? Write to: Charles Legge, Answers To Correspond­ents, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY; or email charles.legge@dailymail.co.uk. A selection is published, but we’re unable to enter into individual correspond­ence.

 ?? ?? Fly me to the moon: Seen in daytime
Fly me to the moon: Seen in daytime

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