So, in honor of the upcoming “Super Moon” as it reaches perigree, I decided to share with you guys my thoughts on working with a two-moon system in my writing.
The first thing I needed to work out was how this would affect tides and the oceans in general. With how I have the moons set up with distance and size, the tides would be much stronger than Earth’s. Not enough to prevent coastal settlement, but enough so that certain days of the year would make coming into port or leaving port nigh on impossible and very dangerous. The ocean will also be far rougher than it is here. So this ended up affecting how boats were built and developed.
As for how they look, the smaller-seeming moon, Alda, looks much like Earth’s moon does: bright in the night sky, largely white with sizable dark patches. The second moon, Laenia, is the larger-looking moon. Because of its position between Alda and the planet, Laenia is actively volcanic, giving it an appearance very similar to Io, which orbits Jupiter. Sulfurous yellows, grays, and glimmering reds would make this smooth, mountainous sphere very beautiful and quite bright.
The additional brightness from these two bodies would make for many more bright nights on the planet than we have, as well as more extreme magnitudes of brightness. Because of this, nocturnal life developed differently than here. Nocturnal predators are more intelligent, and many nocturnal prey animals are more adept with camouflage. On the brightest nights, a human could almost read a book by the light. On the darkest, it would be very similar to a dark night here.
Because the moon we have is responsible for the development of the calendar being how it is, I decided to follow suit and make a two-moon calendar.
Which sucks to make.
It really does.
Laenia’s orbit ended up being around 23.5 days, and Alda’s is about 34.2 days. Because this world’s year is about as long, each year of the standard calendar has 16 months, each between 22-23 days (only three have 22 days). Each month is roughly equal to Laenia’s cycles, and this was adopted as a standard calendar for many nations not only because of the Ataeran influence, but also because it is an easy calendar to remember and calculate when crossing borders. The sixteen months are divided into the same four season, each of these being about four months each. The year begins on the first day of Spring.
In addition to the Laenic Calendar, the Aldic Calendar is also used by the Edham clergy, and uses Alda’s roughly 11 cycles through the year. This calendar works in conjunction with the Laenic Calendar, providing the important dates for feast days, holidays, and days of birth.
So how does this make a two-moon calendar?
For the common person, it doesn’t. Most people follow the Laenic Calendar and that’s that. However, some artisans and most of the educated population use a combination of both calendars to determine lunar cycles, tidal activity, and the relative brightness of coming nights for a number of possible applications.
Having two moons, especially one which is actively volcanic, affected religion quite seriously.
The two major Ataeran faith groups, the Edham and the Qrathine, both see Laenia is sort of a fallen paradise. According to their faith, Laenia was once their home until a great cataclysm which destroyed the visible half of this moon, hence the volcanic activity. Its brightness in the sky and its constant and unchanging face, they believe, are a reminder for the sins of the past. The planet, for many of the particularly faithful, is seen as a living purgatory. Alda is seen as a guiding beacon from their god. A reminder of better days, as they view the shimmering Alda as a sign of perfection. This leaves the stars and the darkness around them as being seen as a view into the Abyss, the stars being a symbol of those who have been given, to quote a contemporary religion, the “wages of sin”, which is denial of the possibility paradise. In their faith, all who die before the repentance of their people is made are cast into the Abyss. To the Edham and Qrathine, the brightness of Laenia and Alda will be all that will remain in the night sky when the final forgiveness is given to them by their god.
Human religions vary more broadly.
The steppe nomads of he Ivory Plains and many groups in the northern lands were influenced by early Ataeran pagans, and so their worship of the two Moons operates as a Husband-Wife dynamic, with the wrathful man and temperate woman, the Sun being a bright child of them.
Other faiths place less emphasis on the moons, but they generally view them as a sort of visual of the afterlife, or symbols of gods/goddesses, or even just simply guiding lights in the darkness. Essentially, many eventually adopt a very Hellenic view of the moons. Important, but not quintessential to the religion itself.
So yeah, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten with my two-moon stuff so far. I still need to do a lot of thinking on it, as well as a lot of elaboration on certain things, but I think this is a workable baseline for right now.
Hope you enjoyed, and happy solstice and all that jazz!