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Longest lunar month of 2014 begins on New Moon

Published on August 25, 2014 under Earth-Space News
Longest lunar month of 2014 begins on New Moon
The longest lunar month of 2014 will start with the new moon of August 25 and end on September 24.

What is a lunar month, you say? And what is its significance?

A lunar month essentially marks the period of time from one new moon to the next new moon.  It is sometimes referred to as a lunation or a synodic month.  The mean length of a lunar month is 29 days, 12 hours, and 44 minutes, but the actual period of time varies throughout the year.  This month’s lunation will last for 29 days, 16 hours, and 1 minute – an extra 3 hours and 17 minutes more than the average.

One lunar month is the period of time from new moon to new moon. As viewed from the north side of The Earth's and moon's orbital planes, the Earth goes counterclockwise around the sun and the moon goes counterclockwise around Earth. Image credit: Wikipedia

What factors influence the variation of this period?  In short, apogee and perigee.

Apogee is the moon’s farthest point away from the Earth in its orbital cycle.  This contrasts with perigee, the moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit. According to Earthsky.org, the longest lunar month of the year occurs when the successive new moons coincide closely with lunar apogee, and the shortest lunar month takes place when the successive new moons close to lunar perigee.

Image credit: NASA. The moon's orbit is closer to being a circle than the diagram suggests. Successive new moons at the vicinity of apogee make for a longer-than-average lunar month. Successive new moons at the vicinity of perigee make for a shorter-than-average lunar month.
The new moon, for review, is the “dark” moon, or the moon phase when the light from the sun’s reflection is blocked.  In farming traditions, the new moon is often a time for germinating seeds, planting root crops, and harvesting their underground rhizomes and tubers. It is also a time of setting intentions for the coming cycle, and starting a medicine preparation such as a tincture.

This week’s new moon falls in the constellation of Virgo, an Earth sign, making it favorable for planting, especially for underground crops, such as turmeric or ginger.  This Earth energy will extend its influence through the entire lunar month, so take advantage of the extra few hours of waxing moon to get some rhizomes and tubers secured in the soil.

Emily Ruff