fall moon

I do spend a lot of time looking up at the sky, especially at night, though I’m no amateur astronomer and gave away my telescope years ago. I prefer naked eye observations and just knowing the science that other things are happening in the heavens even if I can’t observe them.  That must connect me in some ways with the ancients who did the same thing and paid much better attention to the natural world around them.

Tonight’s moon (December 6/7) is classified as a northern lunistice or, the name I prefer, a northern standstill.  (The term lunistice is listed in my dictionary as “obsolete” and defined as the farthest point of the moon’s northing and southing in its monthly revolution. It comes from Latin luna “moon” and sistere “to cause to stand” which is similar to solstice (sun + stand).

Tonight the Moon travels farthest north of the celestial equator. It’s not a rare event. It’s a monthly event. If we were talking about the Sun, that reaches its northernmost point in our view once a year. We call that June event a solstice. Tonight’s monthly event is similar to a solstice in that the moon is northernmost. Take a look tonight if you can (clouds and rain in Paradelle) and see if you notice anything different.

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