On a dark Wednesday evening we entered the depths of the new JSB premises. Deep beneath the ground we gathered for the NSW IES Technical meeting presented by Tim Shotbolt, MBlgSC, RLP, LFIES.

As we wait for Tim, the room darkens and from a far corner we hear a tapping sound getting louder and louder until it becomes a constant beating of drums, and clacking of sticks. Chanting joins the drumming and crescendos as we sit in anticipation.

Suddenly through the door a tribesman bursts forth; a top hat, a swirly patterned shirt, a face painted half black and half white. He travels across the room to a table and cautiously opens a casket; a bloom of steaming potion emits from within. He inhales as he washes it over his face, again and again. Pulling a dagger from its case he looks around the audience scarily, as he wipes the dripping blood with his finger and decently consumes it…. the music stops, the lights comes on and much to our relief, standing before us is a smiling Tim Shotbolt, looking somewhat normal in his top hat, vibrant shirt and face paint.


The Moon, he reminds us, is a catalyst to many pagan rituals & rights of passage and is closely links to behaviours in nature and animals (including humans).  Even present day ceremonies and celebrations, such as Easter are associated to the Moon. Easter is always held on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the equinox.


Tim delivered a quite in depth explanation of the rotation of the Moon to Earth to Sun. The axis of the Earth and the rotation changes ever so slightly during the course of thousands of years so much so that it travels in paths closer to Sun and the asteroid belt, often causing catastrophic effects. Luckily this will occur many many years in the future, too far ahead for us to witness.


The lux levels of the Moon don’t vary at different positions of the Earth on the same night. For example the lux levels at Tim’s moonlit garden are the same thousands of miles away, such as Darwin, where Tim actually travelled to test this was true.


Moon phases and terminology, apparent size shift, moon path, moonlight spectral composition, illuminance values and value relative to other natural light sources were presented throughout the talk with the assistance of graphs and moon mapping. All interesting information and knowledge and an the intriguing topic of the Moon’s influence on pagan rituals, fantasies, and some of the bizarre, fascinating and beautiful natural phenomenons, could be explored further if one had the time, but the tribesman's dance made up for all. And thanks to JSB for their generous hospitality. 


text : Siobhan McNabb