A couple of weeks ago, we observed a “Lunar Eclipse”. Because this year is when the moon is in its minor “Lunar Standstill” (refer to article on Lunar Standstill at Chimney Rock), it was the shortest Lunar Eclipse for many years. Because of the nature of the Moon’s and the Earth’s planes of orbit, an eclipse is an irregular event, that is, it appears to happen randomly.
During the month, the moon rises at different points across the eastern horizon. When it reaches the farthest point north it pauses, or rises in the same spot for a couple of days, and then reverses course. This pause is called a “Lunar Standstill”. The same thing happens two weeks later at its farthest point south. You may have noticed that the sun does the same thing, but it takes the sun a year to move from its farthest point north (Summer Solstice) to its farthest point south (Winter Solstice) and back again. At each solstice, the sun pauses before reversing course and this is called a Solar Standstill. [refer to last week’s article: Native American Skies: Lunar Standstill]