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History Repeating Itself? The Cyclical Phases of the Moon

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History Repeating Itself? The Cyclical Phases of the Moon

Are you fascinated by patterns as well as the phases of the Moon? Here’s some interesting facts: All are cyclical, the most noteworthy being the so-called Metonic Cycle that was independently discovered by the Greek astronomer Meton (born about 460 B.C.). This is a 19-year cycle in which the phases of the Moon are repeated on the same days of the year, or approximately so.

For instance, there is a last quarter Moon on Wednesday, September 13th. In nineteen years, in 2036, there’ll be another last quarter Moon on September 13. Another interesting cycle: after 2 years, the preceding lunar phase occurs at nearly the same calendar date. Thus, in 2019, a full Moon will occur on September 13. After 8 years, the same lunar phases repeat, but occurring one or two days later in the year. The Greeks called this 8-year cycle the octaeteris.

In 2025, a last quarter Moon occurs on September 14. Finally, in our Gregorian Calendar, 372 years provides an excellent long period cycle for the recurrence of a particular phase on a given date.

Thus, we know with absolute certainty that the same last quarter Moon that shines down on us on Wednesday will also be shining on September 13 in the year 2389!

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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