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Old 02-24-13   #1
DonelleBeira
 
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Default Tracking the Moon cycles

For some time I have felt compelled to track the Moon through her phases marking where she rises every day for a certain period of time. I am not sure how to go about this, tho. Is there a particular way to note where she rises from day to day that will allow one to refer to for years to come, noting any changes over time? Is there a better time of the year to start this like at an Equinox? Would I do this for a year's time (which makes the most sense to me) or for a quarter, season, etc.? I assume it is important to be able to be physically in the same place every time one notes Her rising over the horizon, right?

If anyone has done this and is willing to share their method(s), I would be most grateful.
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Old 02-24-13   #2
ffetcher
 
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Default Re: Tracking the Moon cycles

I'm assuming that you want to make your own physical record? If instead all you want to do is have access to a record of what the moon was doing when, there are some good online ephemerides (just to fool you, since my last posting was about language, the plural comes from the Greek) that'll do the job for you. The one pointed at by the moon widget on the left of this screen is http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/ (note that the link in the widget itself is out-of-date). Some sites use 'average' lunar orbits, some use the precise measurements: an astrologer friend once tried to tell me why she sometimes uses one, sometimes the other. I pretended very hard to understand and may even have got away with it.

But for your own record? I kind of understand: our home is aligned so that two or three times a year, the full moon blazes along the upstairs landing, and it's nice to be able to predict that, so yeah, I have a set of landmarks in various places where I think 'ah, yeah, it's almost full and it's in this cleft in the hill near Winchester' or 'over those trees near Odiham' (we do a lot of mileage for gigs, much of it at night) and know it must be close.

There are two ways of noting the rising point. You can use a landmark on the horizon, in which case yep, you need to be in the same place, or, as I do at Winchester and Odiham, know how it relates to 'home'. Or, you can use a sighting-stick with the moon at a particular angle of elevation, or even just at the same time each day, in which case all you need to record is the precise direction and you can work out how that relates to 'home' and 'horizon' using fairly simple arithmetic.

I don't know whether any of this helps or if I've misunderstood the question. If the latter, just poke me with a short stick and I'll post some more random factoids.

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Old 02-24-13   #3
DonelleBeira
 
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Default Re: Tracking the Moon cycles

Thanks, Ffetcher!

Yes, this is for my own record, a way of connecting. The landmark approach is kind of what I am thinking and perhaps a sketch of the view to actually mark each evening. And the more random factoids, the better!
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"Remember these moments always, but do not ignore the sad times, either. Memory is the greatest of gifts."
Spoken by Aditu, a Sithi (an Elf)
from "To Green Angel Tower II"
by Tad Williams
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Old 02-25-13   #4
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Default Re: Tracking the Moon cycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by the seeker View Post
Thanks, Ffetcher!

Yes, this is for my own record, a way of connecting. The landmark approach is kind of what I am thinking and perhaps a sketch of the view to actually mark each evening. And the more random factoids, the better!
Okay, I had a few thoughts about this whilst lying in bed last night. You're talking about a way of connecting, basically a piece of regular work. I like the idea, and as I've said I like to keep track of when the moon will illuminate out landing (a bit like a mundane version of Maes Howe or whatever). Here are the problems I'd have if I were to do this here:

I don't know anything about where you live, but here are the main problems I'd have here if I wanted to do it daily.

Firstly, a problem you'll have wherever you are: moonrise times vary greatly. Here, on February 1 nominal moonrise was 11:31PM; there was no moonrise on February 2, and on February 3 it was 00:46AM. Today it will be at 5:37PM. For about half of the time, the moon rises into a daylight sky. (That's at this latitude: I think it's true at any latitude but it's early yet and my brain isn't in gear.) For about half of this time the moonrise isn't visible regardless of the weather, because of the position relative to the sun.

The technical full moon is at 8:26PM. But in terms of unaided visual observations it was full at moonrise last night and will still be full at moonrise tomorrow. I made a point in spellcasting recently that in this stuff, close enough is usually good enough.

Now a problem specific to here, but probably also for the majority of ESF members, is that we have no unimpeded view of the horizon. From the window where I'm sitting, I can see the trees on the edge of 'the common'. So the rising moon is visible anywhere from forty to seventy minutes after nominal moonrise, depending on where it's rising. In the other directions the situation is worse (which is why this room is my study - if I'm going to be sitting here for a fair part of many days I'll have the best view, please). There is a spot about a mile away where the seeing is better, but for May Morning, when we dance the sun up, we go to a park on the shoreline (whence the sun rises over a refinery, but hey-ho). As again I said in spellcasting, am I going to get up at three AM to walk a mile to see the moon? Maybe if there's a very special thing we want to do, but every day? It's the kind of thing that Gareth Knight might do, but he makes his money from writing about such things. It's simply not compatible with a day-job.

So what I'd probably do would be to draw the treeline as seen from this window, and on those days when there was a chance of seeing it, set the alarm appropriately if necessary and make a note on my sketch before doing a blessing and retreating to a still-warm bed. But if I wanted to back-calculate the actual nominal moonrise from my notes, the math would be pretty much as complex as just using a sightstick/clinometer and compass wherever I was (Of course, lots of people here would disagree with using a GPS as part of a regular working, but I just see it as a tool like any other).

It might be fun to do it using the chart, it depends on your intrention. For me, we travel to the north of the county for a regular practice tonight. I've calculated where the full moon would appear across the trees at Odiham on the way back (there's a tight-beam microwave link across the road at that point, which interferes with the car radio, so no GPS is needed). It would be forty-one degrees above the horizon as we pass it on the way back, give or take. But sadly, the forecast is for eight-eighths cloud cover. The same at our place but the moon wouldn't shine down the landing anyway.

That brings me to the last point. Whilst typing this I've correlated the moon ephemeris at:

http://www.timeanddate.com (useful because it gives directions without needing a calculator)

with historical weather records from the BBC. In the last year, the moonrise would have been within my field of vision from here on 162 days. But of those it would only have been visible in a clear sky on less than half - 74 to be precise. And of those 74, the sky was at lest five-eighths obscured on 31 days, leaving me with a potential forty-three observations for the whole year. Expand that by using a clinometer at any point during the moon's transit across the sky from somewhere near here or a known space like Odiham or Winchester, and guessing that the moon is visible in the daylight sky from a few days before first quarter to a few days after last quarter, and I could have had 260 days or thereabouts, but of those I'd have been working at the time for about fifty, and the sky was five-eighths or worse for a further eighty-one.

In short, for me, connecting using my wall-chart would tell me less about t he moon than about how cr*p the weather actually is round here - that latter being why we never did complete the Brosceliande working.

As I said, it might be fun to try using a chart for local observations. But you'd save a lot of effort using an ephemeris and only going out on occasions when you have a chance of seeing something. In Discworld terms, the young coven would be out there every night with flasks of hot soup. Nanny Ogg would use an ephemeris and sit in front of the fire with a glass or two of something on nights when she wouldn't see anything. And Granny Weatherwax would 'borrow' a critter with very good eyesight to see the moonrise for her. They're all valid approaches, it depends on what you want out of it.

blessings
ffetcher
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...the dreams that stuff is made of
(a tee-shirt for the top quark team at CERN: now the title of an anthology of papers on quantum physics edited by Stephen Hawking)
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