יום חמישי, דצמבר 21, 2006

 

The new moon and the winter solstice

Today is the first day of winter (for those of us in the northern hemisphere). The winter solstice has been tied to spiritually imbued festivals since long before monotheism came around, and of course, our own Jewish Chanukah was built on the tradition of bringing light to the darkest time of year.

If (as discussed in the previous post) Chanukah is timed to the new moon closest to the winter solstice, then how often do these two events coincide as closely as they did this year? If I correctly understand the tables on Earth's Seasons and Phases of the Moon offered by the US Naval Observatory, it would be every nineteen years.

The last time the new moon was the night before the day of shortest daylight (as was the case this year) appears to have been 1987, and the next would be 2025. The actual moments of the new moon and solstice last came on the same night in 1995 and would do so again in 2014.

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