CHANUKAH AND THE MOON © JEFFREY WARREN HYMAN
This year the Jewish holiday of Chanukah begins 6 days before the new moon on 12/16 and it ends 2 days after the new moon on 12/24.
Chanukah is always the darkest 8-day period for the sun and moon in tandem, and the sun and moon in tandem are always furthest South for the year. The sun is always furthest South in December (12/23) and the moon always reaches its extreme southern declination around the new moon in December. With the southern tilt of the earth the moon is now furthest South for the year. And the sun and moon are both always furthest South for the year on the last night on December 23 … 5-6 pm for the sun and 6-7 pm for the moon. The last night of Chanukah is an amazing sight and event. The ancients knew all about this, while the astronomers today could care less about this.
SEVEN IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT CHANUKAH
1. It is always the darkest period for the sun and moon in tandem for the entire year.
2. The sun and moon can be seen in tandem furthest South for the entire year.
3. There is only a crescent moonlight now or no moonlight. There are only around 12 hours of moonlight on eight nights, and between 7PM and midnight only around 7 hours of moonlight for eight nights. So Chanukah is really a darkness festival, while Sukkoth with about 56 hours of moonlight on eight nights you might say is the true “Festival of Lights”. Perhaps that’s why Jewish people sleep outdoors in open huts (Sukkot) to harness all that Harvest moonlight and to witness the lunar splendor at that time.
4. Chanukah is said to be an emotionally trying period. People shouldn’t be alone then and they should give gifts now to cheer each other up.
5. There is also a navigational alert for the sun and moon now. In many locales the sun and moon give South compass headings even though they will rise East (ESE) and set West (W/SW).
6. The 4 sided Jewish Dradle depicts the four quarters of the moon:
FIRST QUARTER = H win a little (the waxing moon).
SECOND QUARTER (the week before full moon) = G The best week of the month. Win a lot
THIRD QUARTER = S (the week after full moon) lose a little. This is the mellow waning moon in the 3rd quarter.
THE FOURTH QUARTER = N (the week before new moon) Lose a lot.
7. Every year on the last night of Chanukah (12/23 this year) the sun and moon in tandem will set furthest South for the year. This is one of the great annual astronomical sightings and it’s the same as it was in ancient times.
Copyright 2014 Jeffrey Warren Hyman. All Rights Reserved.