AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 8 Informal Astronomy
Poster, Monday, January 10, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[8.01] Moon Teachings for the Masses at the U.Mass. Sunwheel and around the World

J.S. Young (Dept. of Astronomy, Univ. of Mass.)

With the culmination of the 18.6 year cycle of the Moon in 2006, the major lunar standstill, we are afforded the unique opportunity to teach the public about the monthly, annual, and 18.6-year wanderings of the Moon. The 18.6 year cycle is caused by the precession of the plane of the lunar orbit, while this orbit maintains a 5 degree tilt relative to the ecliptic. At the peak of this cycle, the Moon's declination swings from -28.8 to +28.8 degrees each month. And even though we are more than 1 year away from the peak of the 18.6-year cycle, already the Moon's declination ranges each month between -28 and +28 degrees. What this means is that each month for the years 2005-2007, the Moon can be seen to rise and set more northerly and also more southerly than the solar extremes, and will transit monthly with altitudes which are higher in the sky than the summer Sun and lower in the sky than the winter Sun.

The U.Mass. Sunwheel is a stone circle calendar constructed in 1997 on the campus of U.Mass. Amherst, with 8'-10' tall stones marking the cardinal directions, the solstice sunrise and sunset directions, and the northernmost and southernmost moonrise and moonset directions. Over 13,000 people have visited the Sunwheel since its construction, and over 5,000 have attended the seasonal sunrise and sunset gatherings which I host. Already, late in 2004, I have begun showning the public the Moon at it's extremes, and there will be monthly opportunities over the next several years for all of us to notice the very high or very low transiting Moon. Finally, Moon teachings from calendar sites at Callanish, Chaco Canyon, and Stonehenge will be presented.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.umass.edu/sunwheel. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

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© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.