How to use the Astronomical Events Almanac
This page tracks the Day, Date, Sunrise/set, Moonrise/set for the month. All rising
and setting times as well as times given for Moon Phases and Astronomical Events (solstices,
equinoxes, etc.) are given in Central Standard or Daylight Savings Time depending on season and are
calculated by the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC. The times given are specifically
calculated for Marion, Illinois (W 88 ° 56', N 37 ° 44'). For absolute accuracy for your area (assuming
you don't live in the Marion area) add one minute for every twelve miles west of Marion and subtract
one minute for every twelve miles east of Marion you should happen to be. The map above is is marked in one minute increments (the vertical lines) to facilitate this task.
This column tracks the positions and phases of the Moon. The Lunar Perigee
(abbreviated: Pg) is the point in the Moon's orbit when it is closest to earth. The Apogee
(abbreviated: Ap) marks its farthest point away from the Earth. Lunar Nodes (abbreviated N) are
the point where the Moon's orbit crosses the Plane of the Ecliptic and are important in eclipse
prediction. Since the Moon's orbit is tilted approximately 5 ° relative to the Plane of the Ecliptic the
Moon is either above (ascending node) or below (descending node) that Plane. Ascending Nodes are
marked with a "+" sign and Descending Nodes with a "-" sign to indicate its position relative to the
Plane. Lunar Phases are noted in this column, however for precise times of lunar phase change
consult the Age of Moon box to the left of the chart. Moon Signs signify
which astrological house the moon is in for any given day.
Holidays and Astronomical Events
This column lists the various holidays and astronomical phenomena
one can observe from our area. Holidays always appear before astronomical events. Those holidays
given in boldface type are legal Federal or State Holidays. Other holidays, religious and secular, are
given in regular face type. Religious traditions recognized in this Almanac are (in order of religious
age): Pagan, Jewish, Orthodox Christian, Western Christian, and Islamic. When two holidays from
separate traditions occur on the same day they are given in the order of their respective historical age.
Astronomical Events listed are those which can be seen with either the naked eye or a set of
moderately powerful binoculars and include lunar and solar eclipses, regularly occurring meteor
showers and known comets
Names of the Moon
When I began writing this almanac I intended to give each month's full moon its traditional
name, i.e.: Harvest Moon, Snow Moon, Hunter's Moon, and so forth. These supposedly traditional
names were derived in part from the Indian names for these moons in use among the tribes inhabiting
the New England area before the European conquest. This was primarily because our nation's first
almanacs were published in New England.
But contradictions appeared in my research in this area almost from the start.
These were tribes that, to put it charitably, had no actual knowledge of the length of a solar
year, no systematic astronomical system and no reason for either. To say that the names given were
based on an "Indian Calendar" is simply ludicrous - since the tribes in question didn't have calendars.
Neither did they have standard names for the moons as numerous anthropologists eventually
It is true that the aborigines did name moons based on natural events occurring at the time
of full moon - but the names varied from year to year because the time of the full moon relative to
the natural events changed annually. This happened because the moon's orbit around the earth isn't
synchronous with the solar year - a fact only imperfectly perceived by the aborigines. Some
individuals of a tribe passionately believed there were twelve moons in a year while other tribal
members believed with equal fervor that there were thirteen (there are actually 12.38 full moons in
a solar year). Naming the current moon then became a point of contention in most tribes with
members at times nearly coming to blows over the name.
Another problem was with location. Since they were dependent on the natural events of a
region, the New England names would not hold true with the tribal names in the south, or the
southwest, the Great Plains or ... here. In trying to make sense of the innumerable names given to
various moons by the 300 or so tribes investigated at the time of contact it quickly became apparent
that reconciling them all in an orderly way was an impossible task.
So I basically said to heck with it (or words along those lines) and tossed the whole lot.
Instead I have done what our region's pre-conquest forbears did: I gave them my own names based
on our region's own unique natural events. I feel that this is more in the spirit of naming the moons
than relying on an alien chronology from an equally alien region that has little in common with our
You should also note, gentle reader, that I have given two moon names to each month so that
you can pick your personal favorite. In researching moon names I've managed to find up to twenty
five separate moon names for some months. I've therefore been forced to winnow them down to the
one that I felt best suited our region and used that in addition to the one of my own devising.
But I am by no means an authority on naming the moons! Should any readers out there feel
I've missed the mark on any or all of the names given please send me your suggestions and we'll see
if we can fit them in the next edition of the almanac. Contact us
May all your moons this year be Strawberry Moons.