March 2006: Major Lunar Standstill

At sunrise on Wednesday, March 22, people in the Northern Hemisphere will see the Waning Quarter Moon almost due south in the sky. When it's due south, the Moon is said to be at upper transit -- its highest point for the day. The Sun, incidentally, reaches upper transit at high noon.
As seen from the Northern Hemisphere, this Waning Quarter Moon will be much lower in the sky than any noonday Sun. That's because this is the day of the Major Lunar Standstill -- the Moon at its southernmost point in its 18.5 to 19-year major standstill cycle. It'll be at a (geocentric) declination of nearly 29 degrees south of the equator -- a good 5 degrees farther south than the Sun ever gets on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice.
The last time the Moon was at a Major Lunar Standstill was on September 29, 1987, and the next time won't be till March 22, 2025. A Major Lunar Standstill always happens when the Moon is at or near quarter moon. Moreover, it always takes place within one week of an eclipse. But that's not all. A Major Lunar Standstill always happens near an equinox, this year's equinox falling on March 20th.
Be sure to notice how high up the waxing Moon is at sunset and early evening on April 5. For more on Major Lunar Standstills, please click here or here.

copyright 2006 by Bruce McClure

February 2006 Feature * April 2006 Feature

For your information. . .

Moonrise/moonset times -- US & Canada
Moonrise/moonset times -- worldwide
Moonrise/transit/moonset -- worldwide
Printable monthly calendar -- moonrises/moonsets
Moon's altitude and azimuth