A Remarkable Lunar Paper and Numbers on Major Standstill

Yesterday we had a sort of a review of the lunar postings so far and a look at how the orbital changes are not quite as expected. That the lunar orbit is “wrong” – per some folks. Also a touch on the history of tides and that some of the very earliest writings are claiming much stronger tides than at present. There was also a link to a WUWT article about about the way tides are much larger during certain alignments of sun, moon, and earth with particular orbital conditions (perigee). Including calculations that tides then could be significantly larger. Between 1.5 x and 2 times present. This would tend to wash more warm water under the North Pole ice cap and help break up the ice. It would also cause large changes in ocean mixing of water levels and change both ocean surface temperatures, and through them, air temperatures.

I raised the question of other effects and that, perhaps, the lunar orbit might have a greater range than we presently think; and that might lead to some truly extreme tides. Perhaps even as extreme as the earliest recorded observation (that has been rejected by some as fanciful due to the large size.)

For details, see: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/the-moons-orbit-is-wrong-it-can-change-a-lot-and-tides-will-too/

So then I went off looking for any evidence for just “how big” variations from expected might be. Along the way I found some Wiki articles that give a general idea how much the moon changes position. First I’ll put some of that information here, then I’ll put some bits from the paper on historic eclipse variation.

Major Standstill

When the moon wanders around in it’s 18.6 (ish) year cycle, it has several minor cycles and a major one. Each month, the moon looks like it moves north and south, stopping at each end in a ‘standstill’. Much like the sun has a solstice, the moon also changes direction, but it is called a standstill. There are times when those standstill times are at greater range than others. Those are the Major Standstill. That cycle marks the end of the 18.6 year cycle. Now remember that the earth rotations are nearly perfectly synchronized after three such cycles; so each cycle has the maximum tide force happening over a different 1/3 of the globe, then on the third one it is back over the same bit of the planet surface. This means that, for example, a Major Standstill that happens over the mid-Pacific ocean will not happen again over that patch of water for 3 x 18.6 years, or about 55.8 years. It is my belief that this is the reason there is an “about 60 year” cycle in the weather of the planet. It is all about tides and ocean mixing.

So lets get some numbers and background.


At a major lunar standstill, which takes place every 18.6 years, the range of the declination of the Moon reaches a maximum. As a result, at high latitudes, the Moon’s greatest altitude (at culmination, when it crosses the meridian) changes in just two weeks from high in the sky to low over the horizon. This time appears to have had special significance for the Bronze Age societies who built the megalithic monuments in Britain and Ireland, and it also has significance for some neo-pagan religions. Evidence also exists that alignments to the moonrise or moonset on the days of lunar standstills can be found in ancient sites of other ancient cultures, such as at Chimney Rock in Colorado and Hopewell Sites in Ohio.

What this says is that the moon reaches an extreme range every 18.6 years, and offset from that it reaches a minimal range of N / S wander on the 1/2 way point. Now I just have to think that having the moon stay relatively close to the equator has to be very different for tides when compared with having it rush from further north to further south in a couple of weeks.

That the ancients had noticed this time was “special” just causes me to think all the more that there is something here to track down. Those ancients didn’t have much to do other than observe carefully and think about what they saw. They tended to be careful about what was (literally) cast into stoneworks. So we need to be particularly aware of Standstill, and especially of Major Standstill. Got it.

At this point, a minor digression on lunar orbit…

The moon orbits the sun. Unlike most moons, it does not orbit in the plane of the equator of the planet (i.e. Earth) but instead orbits near the ecliptic. This matters since the Earth axis is tilted to the ecliptic. That means the moon seems to ‘bob’ up and down relative to the Earth. This matters since it is a bit different from most moons and planets. The Sun influences the lunar orbit more than does the Earth, and the complexities of the lunar orbit come from it being disconnected from the Earth equator. Much of our tides, and through them, climate and weather come from that fact. More on that later.

Unlike the stars, the Sun and Moon do not have a fixed declination. As the Earth travels its annual orbit around the Sun, with its rotational axis tilted at about 23.5° from the “vertical” (a line perpendicular to the orbit), the Sun’s declination changes from +23.5° at the northern hemisphere Summer Solstice to −23.5° at the northern hemisphere Winter Solstice. Thus, in the northern hemisphere, the Sun is higher in the sky and visible for a longer period of time in June than it is in December. This is the cause of the Earth’s seasons.

The Moon also changes in declination, but it does so every lunar nodal period or 27.212 days. So it goes from a positive declination to a negative one in under two weeks. Thus, in under a month the Moon’s altitude at its culmination (when it is due south on the meridian) can move from being high in the sky, to low over the horizon, and back again.

The Moon’s maximum and minimum declination also varies because the plane of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is inclined by about 5.14° to the ecliptic (the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun), and the direction of lunar orbit inclination gradually changes over an 18.6-year cycle, alternately adding to or subtracting from the 23.5° tilt of the Earth’s axis. As a consequence, the maximum declination of the Moon varies from roughly (23.5° − 5°) = 18.5° to (23.5° + 5°) = 28.5°. As a result, at minor lunar standstill, the Moon will change its declination during the nodal period from +18.5° to −18.5°, which is a total movement of 37°. Then, 9.3 years later, during the major lunar standstill, the Moon will change its declination during the nodal period from +28.5° to −28.5°, which is a total movement of 57°, which is enough to take its culmination from high in the sky to low on the horizon in just two weeks (half an orbit).

Now think about that for just a minute. Because the Moon does not orbit the Earth at the equator, but orbits the Sun along with the Earth as a binary planet, it wanders up to 57° relative to the oceans. Or as little as 37° at other times. 20° of variation. Think 20° more or less tidal pull toward the poles or away from them just might make a little bit of difference to how big the tides are? To how high “average sea level” might be in an area? To how much tidal mixing of cold water into surface waters happens? To how much water moves into the northern oceans or into the southern oceans? To ENSO? To how much ice shelves at the poles break up? To, basically, long term average weather? (Mistakenly called climate by most “climate scientists”. Climate changes on million year scales. Weather changes on decade, century, and millennium scales.) In short, there is a very large periodic perturbation of the Earth systems and oceans, with periods of roughly 9, 18, 56, 179 and even 1800 years (and others we’ve not talked about). This drives much of the natural variation of our weather and 30 year average of weather called ‘climate’ by some. On longer cycles the same effects happen, but due to other cycles such as longer term variations in obliquity, eccentricity (of earth and moon orbits), tides and even solar output of energy and the distribution of it as UV vs other wavelengths. It is all natural cycles and oscillations of our natural world.

Some Other Lunar Bits


Lunar standstill

During the June Solstice the Ecliptic reaches the highest declination in the southern hemisphere, −70′-130′ When at the same time the ascending node has a 90° angle with the Sun in the southern hemisphere, the declination of the Full Moon in the sky reaches a maximum at −23°29′ – 5°9′ or −28°36′. This is called the major standstill or Lunistice in the southern hemisphere. Nine and a half years later, when the descending node has a 90° angle with the December Solstice the declination of the Full Moon in the sky reaches a maximum at 23°29′ + 5°9′ or 28°36′. The other major standstill or Lunistice, this time in the northern hemisphere.

Whenever you see an ‘about 9 year’ cycle for things, think of a lunar tidal influence…

So who orbits what?

In representations of the Solar System, it is common to draw the trajectory of the Earth from the point of view of the Sun, and the trajectory of the Moon from the point of view of the Earth. This could give the impression that the Moon circles around the Earth in such a way that sometimes it goes backwards when viewed from the Sun’s perspective. Since the orbital velocity of the Moon about the Earth (1 km/s) is small compared to the orbital velocity of the Earth about the Sun (30 km/s), this never occurs. There are no rearward loops in the Moon’s solar orbit.

Considering the Earth–Moon system as a binary planet, their mutual centre of gravity is within the Earth, about 4624 km from its centre or 72.6% of its radius. This centre of gravity remains in-line towards the Moon as the Earth completes its diurnal rotation. It is this mutual centre of gravity that defines the path of the Earth–Moon system in solar orbit. Consequently the Earth’s centre veers inside and outside the orbital path during each synodic month as the Moon moves in the opposite direction.

Unlike most moons in the Solar System, the trajectory of the Moon around the Sun is very similar to that of Earth. The Sun’s gravitational effect on the Moon is over twice as great as the Earth’s on the Moon; consequently, the Moon’s trajectory is always convex (as seen when looking Sunward at the entire Moon/Earth/Sun system from a great distance outside the Earth/Moon solar orbit), and is nowhere concave (from the same perspective) or looped

This matters. Were the Moon to orbit the Earth at the equator, our weather and climate would be much different and far less variable. Not only does the angle range vary by 20°, but the distance from the Earth changes too. Tides are much more variable than one person sees in one lifetime.

Lunar distance vs. moon phase in one year

Lunar distance vs. moon phase in one year

Attribution link.

Note that this distance graph is not including the effects of the 18.6 year or longer year cycles. Things change. A Lot. Any climate model that does not allow for this highly variable mixing of the oceans and tides is a model that is broken and can not work correctly.


Isaac Asimov suggested a distinction between planet–moon and double-planet structures based in part on what he called a “tug-of-war” value, which does not consider their relative sizes. This quantity is simply the relationships between the masses of the primary planet and the Sun combined with the squared distances between the smaller object and its planet and the Sun:

tug-of-war value = m1⁄m2 × (d1⁄d2 )^2

where m1 is the mass of the larger body, m2 is the mass of the Sun, d1 is the distance between the smaller body and the Sun, and d2 is the distance between the smaller body and the larger body.[4] Note that the tug-of-war value does not rely on the mass of the satellite or smaller body.

This formula actually reflects the relation of the gravitational effects on the smaller body from the larger body and from the Sun. The tug-of-war figure for Saturn’s moon Titan is 380, which means that Saturn’s hold on Titan is 380 times as strong as the Sun’s hold on Titan. Titan’s tug-of-war value may be compared with that of Saturn’s moon Phoebe, which has a tug-of-war value of just 3.5. So Saturn’s hold on Phoebe is only 3.5 times as strong as the Sun’s hold on Phoebe.

Asimov calculated tug-of-war values for several satellites of the planets. He showed that even the largest gas giant, Jupiter, had only a slightly better hold than the Sun on its outer captured satellites, some with tug-of-war values not much higher than one. Yet in nearly every case the tug-of-war value was found to be greater than one, so in every case the Sun loses the tug-of-war with the planets. The one exception was Earth’s Moon, where the Sun wins the tug-of-war with a value of 0.46, which means that Earth’s hold on the Moon is less than half the Sun’s hold. Since the Sun’s gravitational effect on the Moon is more than twice that of Earth’s, Asimov reasoned that the Earth and Moon form a binary-planet structure. This was one of several arguments in Asimov’s writings for considering the Moon a planet rather than a satellite.

We might look upon the Moon, then, as neither a true satellite of the Earth nor a captured one, but as a planet in its own right, moving about the Sun in careful step with the Earth. From within the Earth–Moon system, the simplest way of picturing the situation is to have the Moon revolve about the Earth; but if you were to draw a picture of the orbits of the Earth and Moon about the Sun exactly to scale, you would see that the Moon’s orbit is everywhere concave toward the Sun. It is always “falling toward” the Sun. All the other satellites, without exception, “fall away” from the Sun through part of their orbits, caught as they are by the superior pull of their primary planets – but not the Moon.
— Isaac Asimov

Simply put, we must look to the Sun to know what perturbs the lunar “orbit” of the Earth. The difference between the Earth orbit and the Moon orbit of the Sun cause all sorts of subtle things to happen on Earth that do not happen on other planets from their moons. Including many interesting variations in our tides, currents, weather, and climate cycles.

The Value of Old Data, Unadjusted and Unmolested

With that context, I ran into this interesting paper that looks at actual recorded eclipses vs those predicted by NASA model computer codes. The computer models are wrong. By definition. The observations are right. These folks in India did an absolutely stellar job of doing real and professional science. Not polluted by Political Agenda. Not with the answer predetermined. NOT using models as “evidence” or “data”, but as foil. Saying “Look, the data does not agree with the model. The model is wrong. What does that mean?”

I can not praise this paper enough for the clear way the authors follow the Scientific Method. Please read it, the whole thing.


What it finds is that the actual history of recorded eclipses in India from 400 A.D. to 1800 A.D. does not match what a NASA model post-dicts for them. They then look at that difference and discover that the lunar “orbit” of the Earth must change more than predicted and that the tides on the Earth must be strong enough to change the Length Of Day. Think about that. LOD is dependent on the Moon and the particular orbital status. That is a LOT of mass to move around. Even at milliseconds, it is a big effect. Certainly more than it takes to move some air around on the surface and change some temperatures…

That is how Science is really supposed to be done. When the model diverges from reality, the model is WRONG. What can we learn from that wrongness?

Some quotes (that do not do justice to the article. Please do read it.):

Ancient eclipses and long-term drifts in the Earth–Moon system

M. N. Vahia1,*, Saurabh Singh2, Amit Seta3 and B. V. Subbarayappa4
1Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai 400 005, India
2Department of Electronics Engineering, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, Jharkhand 826 004, India
3Centre for Excellence in Basic Science, University of Mumbai, Vidhyanagari Campus, Mumbai 400 098, India
4No. 31, Padmanabha Residency, BSK III Stage, Bangalore 560 085, India

We study anomalies in the Earth–Moon system using ancient eclipse data. We identify nine groups of anomalous eclipses between AD 400 and 1800 recorded in parts of India that should have completely missed the subcontinent according to NASA simulations (Es-penak, F. and Meeus, J., NASA/TP 2006–214141, 2011). We show that the typical correction in lunar location required to reconcile the anomalous eclipses is relatively small and consistent with the fluctuations in the length of day that are observed in recent periods. We then study how the change in the moment of inertia of the Earth due to differential acceleration of land and water can account for this discrepancy. We show that 80% of these discrepancies occur when the Moon is at a declination greater than 10 and closer to its major standstill of 28 while it spends 46% of the time in this region. We simulate the differential interaction of the Moon’s gravity with land mass and water using finite element method to account for land mass and water mass. We show that the results of eclipse error are consistent with the estimate of a small differential acceleration when the Moon is over land at high latitudes. However, we encounter some examples where the results from simulation studies cannot explain the phenomenon. Hence we propose that the T corrections have to be coupled with some other mechanism, possibly a small vertical oscillation in the Moon’s rotational plane with period of the order of a few hundred years to achieve the required adjustment in eclipse maps.
The system is made more complex by the fact that the temperature fluctuations over a year have changed the mass distribution on Earth. Hence small fluctuations in the length of day are not fully amenable to an analytical solution even with more than 120 terms. However, the fluctuations are minor and not fully exposed by short-period studies of a few decades. To understand the nature of interaction, it is important to have long-period data. Based on individual eclipse records it has been shown that the drift time T that characterizes long-term drift in the Earth–Moon system is not as smooth as conventionally thought (see refs 12–15 for a survey of the field). Here we use a database of more than 500 solar eclipses record-ed in India between AD 400 and 1800 to quantify the drift in the location of the Moon with time.

Now we see the value of long term preservation of original observations. Unadorned and unadulterated by “value added”. Simply put, it takes a very long baseline data set that has NOT been corrupted, adjusted, or changed in any way to do real Climate Science. In this case, 1200 years of carefully recorded data. If the “errors” in the data had been “adjusted” away, nothing would be learned. Had the models been held more accurate than 1000 year old observations, nothing would be learned.

Subbarayappa and Vahia have made a catalogue of more than a thousand eclipses recorded in the subcontinent from AD 400 to 1800. A small study of this nature was done by Shaylaja. In the present study we compare the ancient Indian records of solar eclipses from AD 400 to AD 1500 (see also ref. 18). We find more than 500 solar eclipses in this period. Out of these, 114 are mentioned in more than one record. We then compare these observations with eclipse predictions by Espenak19 (http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html). We find that 15 of these eclipses have paths that did not pass over the region at all where the observations are recorded. We then study single observations of eclipses around these periods and we show that there is a general trend of several close by eclipses whose paths also do not fall as expected. In order to determine the time interval of anomalous eclipses, we assume that an eclipse is anomalous if the disc coverage at the location of observation is less than 20%, as predicted by Espenak19. We extend the period on either side of the observations till we come across two consecutive eclipses where the expected and observed paths agree. We find nine distinct periods when eclipses around these multiple observations also have paths which do not pass through the point of observation. We label them as anomalous eclipse periods. These lie in the range given in Table 1.

This anomaly may be caused by subtle differences in the Moon’s location compared to the values used in the NASA calculations. We then study the location of the Moon during these anomalous periods and find that it is significantly closer to major standstill during this period. We then calculate the differential acceleration of the Earth due to its varying oblateness because of the fact that water mass has a much greater displacement compared to land mass due to lunar gravity. We show that this difference in moment of inertia of the Earth is consistent with fluctuations in the length of day and the errors in location of the Moon derived from our calculations. This is consistent with the fluctuations observed in East Asian records and the fluctuations in length of day recorded since the advent of atomic clocks.

In short: The model is wrong. The data are right. It shows changes in lunar orbit change the tides, the distribution of water on the planet, and through that the Length Of Day. (Along with the shape of the Earth).

There is an interesting graph of the change in the moment of inertia with the declination of the Moon. Another of L.O.D. variation with lunar declination. Then trend in L.O.D. over time. And more. It explains a fair amount. For example:

Though the change is small, under extreme conditions (e.g. high declination of the Moon, perigee), it can cause slight perturbation in orbital velocity that can result in shift of the shadow during eclipses either in latitudes or longitudes (depending on the exact geometry of the situation). There are certain cases possible where the Moon can either slow down or speed up as a result of the above interaction and hence can shift the shadows of Moon on Earth in a dramatic manner.

The Earth L.O.D. can change. The Moon can either slow down or speed up. Water sloshes all over. Think that makes a difference to air temperatures? Of particular interest is this snippet:

As can be seen from these figures, the discrepancy in the observation of eclipses arises primarily when the Moon is closer to one of the standstills.

In computer programming, two very common errors are “off by one” and “edge cases”. That change of behaviour near Standstill is an example of an “edge case”. I would speculate that the effect is even larger during Major Standstill and perhaps even much more during a Major Standstill at lunar and Earth perigee. IMHO, it is that which is part (most?) of the mechanism of the 1470 / 1800 year cycles of weather. At edge cases the Moon does something special / more; and we’ve not allowed for that.

The “conclusion” section is also interesting:


We have used data of ancient eclipses recorded in the Indian subcontinent and compared them with the NASA calculations of ancient eclipses. We have identified nine periods of anomalous eclipses consisting of 17 eclipses with multiple observations where the NASA calculations suggest that they should not have been visible in India. We have studied the fluctuations in the Earth–Moon system
based on minor (of the order of 10–8) fluctuations due to the fact that the water mass responds to the Moon with physical displacement of the mass compared to the land mass which does not get displaced. The simulations suggest a small but significant effect of this movement, with the Earth moving faster when the Moon is at standstill. A large fraction of anomalous eclipses in fact occurs when the Moon is close to the standstill. However, fluctuations in the rotation of the Earth cannot satisfy all anomalous eclipses, as the above discussed fluctuations can only result in small drifts in horizontal shifts in eclipse maps ( T corrections). However, for examples where huge spatial and time corrections are required, we need to couple the above-studied phenomenon with another mechanism(s) to account for anomalies. The possible corrections would be to look into changes in Moon’s inclination or fluctuations in its secular acceleration at a long-term scale.

In Conclusion

In short, the Moon moves, and that then moves the oceans and the weather. It moves more than we expect (than NASA expects in their computer models) and those changes are greatest near Major Standstill. (This also implies that further changes in Major Standstill from very long term changes of the lunar orbit not considered in the article would have similarly large effects.) The Sun moves the Moon. The Moon moves the tides, water and more. They move the weather and longer term “average weather” that is mistakenly called climate. The Moon changes more than we have observed in recent times (since our lives are very short) and old musty history and old musty un-adjusted data matters. The Ancients knew something about the Major Standstill and that it mattered a great deal. Enough to erect stones to mark it. I suspect they knew exactly what it meant and why it mattered. That is the time when “Things Change”… and not always for the best – warm and mild; but sometimes to the worse – cold and wild.

So that is the mechanism I see that connects the solar changes to the weather on Earth. Sure, there is room to add in changes of Galactic Cosmic Ray (GCR) mediated clouds, shifts of the Jet Stream from zonal to meridional, changes of UV and heat distribution to Stratosphere and deep ocean, and so much more. But the core, IMHO, is the major planets moving the Sun, the Sun moving the Moon vs the Earth in orbit together, then the Sun and Moon shifting tides and the distribution of cold water on Earth (along with our L.O.D.). Those changes of water flow and distribution change the typical air temperatures and humidities over the oceans, and that shifts the weather. “Climate Change” starts in the major planets and the Sun. It gets here via the pedantic changes of the Moon and Tides. “As above, so below”.

Those changes are far larger than folks generally think. Mostly due to our lives being much much shorter than the 1470 to 1800 year basic cycle of the Moon and weather. Partly due to the lunar orbit being a bit more “wild” than we presently think (but attested in historical weather data and eclipse data.)

So look to the Moon. Look at 9, 19, 56, and longer cycles. That is what will grant true insight, and true predictive ability. And at all times remember that the ‘highest and best use’ of computer models is to illustrate where our understanding is wrong. Real Data, even 1600 year old musty real data, is far more valuable than any number of “simulations”. It does not take magic “teleconnections” to explain things. All it takes is to recognize that things are a bit different in a Binary Planetary System and that our partners in space matter.


Some miscellaneous images. Just so folks don’t have to chase a lot of links. First up, a couple from LG in comments

Lunar orbital path from above

Lunar orbital path from above

A full circular view:

Full orbit of moon Luna / Earth vs Sun from above

Full orbit of moon Luna / Earth vs Sun from above

Then this one I talked about showing the orbit of Luna as a tennis ball on a basket ball court, were the Earth the size of a basket ball. Note that the comments about it says the moon rises up / down out of the plain by about a ‘tennis racket’ of height. That is, the moon goes significantly above and below the actual size of the Earth, since the moon is orbiting about 5+ degrees tilted to the ecliptic (or Earth / Sun orbital plain).

Showing the Luna / Earth orbit scaled to a basket ball court

Showing the Luna / Earth orbit scaled to a basket ball court

Attribution Link and full sized image

Text from the caption on the Orbit Of The Moon wiki page:

With the Earth scaled to the size of a basketball, the Moon is the size of a tennis ball and orbits at the distance of the 3-point line. And with the court as the ecliptic plane, the Moon’s orbit extends out of that plane by the distance of a tennis racket (10.46 Moon diameters).

That 10+ Luna diameters extension out of the plain of the Earth orbit is an important point. The only thing I can see that constrains the moon from passing over the top of the Earth is the eccentricity limits set by the Luna / Sun orbital mechanics. The Sun dominates the Luna orbit, not the Earth. To me, it looks like we are just depending on Orbital Resonance and the Solar / Earth dynamic to keep things always with a “normal” Luna eccentricity with respect to the Earth. Essentially, since Luna orbits the Sun as the dominant player, not the Earth, how much does the Luna / Earth dynamic of necessity really stay forced into a “moon goes around Earth” dynamic? I don’t know, as I’m not that versed in orbital mechanics and I’ve seen a LOT of crazy orbits looking at what is expected and allowed; so I know I can’t say for sure what it must do.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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53 Responses to A Remarkable Lunar Paper and Numbers on Major Standstill

  1. kakatoa says:

    Amazing! I wonder if NASA has commented on this paper.

  2. Bloke down the pub says:

    The unasked question is, what trend is this likely to produce in our weather for the immediate future?

  3. Steve C says:

    Entirely agree it’s “all natural cycles and oscillations”. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d love to see some input here from Piers Corbyn, the man whose “Solar-Lunar” techniques of weather prediction (plus studying what happened last time things were roughly as they are now) routinely outperform the Met Office’s professionals from weeks ahead. (Unfortunately, of course, he has a living to make doing this, so probably wouldn’t key us in to all his arcane knowledge. I’d still love to know how he knows to predict sunspots, CMEs etc!)

    I guess one’s beliefs about AGW come down to whether or not one can appreciate that solar-system-wide resonances, developed over millions of years, are certain to overpower the (claimed) effect of a minor (and benign) trace gas in Earth’s atmosphere. To me, that’s a no-brainer, but then I’m old enough to have had a decent, non-propagandising education back in the days when facts trumped feelings.

  4. philjourdan says:

    Ignoring the NASA shenanigans, this study is fascinating on another level. At present, astronomers are looking for “Goldilocks” planets. But the initial indication is that it does not matter if the porridge is “just right”. You have to have a spoon to stir it that would create the necessary mechanics for life on other planets. Given the uniqueness of the binary planet system in the observed worlds (this solar system), that kind of cuts down on the number of planets that may have developed life by a large factor.

    And it could be why Asimov’s Science Fiction writings were not about aliens, but of man colonizing an empty galaxy.

  5. Chuck L says:

    Wow, fascinating. I wonder how this would manifest itself when looking at the frequency of historical winter storms and other extreme weather events. Might make for an interesting paper – have any such papers been done?

  6. Chuck L says:

    Also, what is the exact mechanism(s) that would cause perturbations in the Moon’s orbit to affect the Earth’s weather and climate? You suggested that higher than normal tides could aid in the breakup of sea ice, would that be the major mechanism by which climate is affected or would other atmospheric/climate phenomena be affected as well. Thanks, glad to see you blogging again!

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @Chuck L:

    Mechanisms? Hard to say, and it would be speculation. I tried to keep speculation to a minimum in a presentation of “just the facts” about lunar orbits and eclipses (though there is some). Clearly lunar / tidal changes of tides is a given (cited in the paper as mass distribution / oblateness changes). The paper (Keeling & Worf) cited in the prior linked article from yesterday lays out a tidal mixing method of effect where deep cold water is mixed to the surface in greater / lesser degree. (It accounts for about 1/2 of all “mixing”, the other being from wind… but … lunar tidal effects move the air and ought to shift winds too…) That, then, leads to knock-on effects with snow, albedo, etc. That would be the basic set as I see it.

    Then there are all the secondaries… WHY does the sun stir the lunar orbit? Because “It Moves!”. The major planets wiggle the Sun around. The group of planets and Sun wiggle all the minor planets and the Moon. This wiggle causes minor changes in the Sun, too. Such as sunspots and solar wind. Now you get the “me too!” of GCR changing cloud cover some, and the UV plunge shortening the atmospheric height (and making one very cold polar vortex). Less heat deposited deep in slow oceans via UV, more causing surface prompt evaporation as IR. More cold rain, less slow ocean heating. And likely a few more as well.

    The interesting thing is that they all seem to move in the same directions (colder or warmer) at the same time, near as I can tell. So sorting out numbers for “how much from each” will be a bit hard. Especially at “edge cases” where things can be non-linear and ratios of effects can change. Then add in things like the Gulf Stream / North Atlantic Drift as a “switch”; it can hold Europe warm and ice caps melted for a long time, then just by moving a little south and away from the entry to the Arctic, leave Europe frozen and the pole iced over. Crossing that trigger point makes a sudden and extreme shift. It only “latches up” at certain orbital conditions, but “tries” at many others. (Glacial vs interglacial for the first; stadial vs interstadial for the second). Are there other interesting “switches” like that which we don’t know about? Are they “shifted” by a major shift of tides at those 18.6, 56, or longer intervals? How close are we to those “edge cases”? Interesting things to “dig here!” about… I’d particularly speculate that volume of water through the Drake Passage (changes in depth mean changes in volume) vs that diverted up the S. American coast will matter a lot. (I did a posting on that:

    What is very clear to me is that any “General Circulation Model” that leaves out all this known and demonstrable process MUST FAIL. It will end up with miss-attribution to some other parameter or variable. IMHO, that’s the place where CO2 “The Magic Gas” got assigned all the residual in a broken model and things went off the rails. Now that the orbital mechanics are shifting things to the cold side, the models are running wild the wrong way. This divergence will only get worse… But that’s the best way to use a model. Run it. When it is right, enjoy the glow. When it is wrong, that’s when you find out where things are not tuned right and parts are missing… This is a “learning opportunity” that the model sycophants are completely missing.

    As to any papers done using this lunar cycle insight in the context of historical weather records: I don’t know of any off hand. I’m sure someone must have thought of it before… but then again, that Indian paper is relatively new, and prior to that it would be considered “pseudo science” to try linking weather patterns to Major Standstill events. “Astrology”, the critics would yell… So looks to me like a “Dig Here!” FWIW, I’d likely start in the way back times, and ask what these folks knew:

    The Druidic system, as encoded into the Calendar of Coligny, offered a range of calculation options. These included:

    The solar cycle, spanning 7 solar years X 7 until the commencement of the 50th or Jubilee year. This was the solar aspect of the very ancient Sabbatical cycle.

    A solar cycle within the 6804-day lunar nutation cycle.

    The lunar cycle, spanning 7.2 lunar years X 7, with ceremonial additions of 5.25-days each 7.2 lunar years to make the lunar cycle meld with the solar Sabbatical cycle. This was the lunar aspect of the Sabbatical cycle.

    The lunar cycle within the 6804-day Lunar Nutation Cycle, where the Moon moved from Major Standstill to Minor Standstill and back to Major Standstill once more. This oscillation of the Moon during a period of 18.613-years was somewhat comparable to the Sun’s annual movement from winter Solstice to Equinox to summer Solstice.

    Solar years in terms of months of 28-days in an easy to use system where there were 364-days per solar year, composed of 13 months each. The 1.25-days of accruing error per year would be rectified at the end of the 7th year after a festival of 9-days duration. This was the basic, raw count, Sabbatical cycle system that worked to a “7” series of numbers. All weeks were 7-days long. The 7th month was the Sabbatical month. The 7th year was the Sabbatical year and the passage of 7 batches of Sabbatical years heralded arrival at a date wherein all finite calendar corrections were finalised before entry into the 50th or Jubilee year. This was the calendar of “ordinary folk” engaged in peasant planting and harvesting. Despite it’s simplicity, it was overseen by Druidic scientists, staying more accurately abreast of the position arrived at within the monitored cycles.

    An extended 2592-day agrarian community cycle, starting on the first day of summer, 45.75 (46-days) before the solstice. This calendar count of days was regulated by the Sabbatical cycle and terminated at the end of a Sabbatical year.

    A 19 solar year metonic cycle that conjuncted with 235 lunar months.

    But starting with old English weather records or with Catholic Church records might also be fruitful. Chinese reports / data from various dynasties too… Or maybe those same old records in India. Famine years and years of plenty… There was likely a reason those folks were keeping track of times of eclipse, perhaps they recorded “why” too.


    Interesting point. Also, realize that this “mixing” makes our planet more benign everywhere. If we had not sloshing back and forth, the equator would be uniformly warm, the poles frozen. Likely completely different species would evolve for the different zones. How well would a planet develop with competing intelligent species? Good or bad? Interesting Science Fiction novel idea lives in that point…

    @Steve C:

    I’m sure Piers has already got a bead on this (though perhaps without the “edge effects” at the Major Standstill with particular orbital configurations that only happen once every 1800 years ;-) The Farmers Almanac is also reputed to use lunar state data in their predictions. I suspect some old Druid wisdom was not lost in our rush to modernity…


    I did not see any NASA response in my key word searching. If they have responded, a search on NASA and the authors names and / or paper name ought to turn it up.

    @Bloke Down The Pub:

    I got it “this far” and then needed to get it posted. My estimate is that it would take me about 3 weeks to get all the parts aligned enough to be confident that I could predict what it means about gross weather. A decent meteorologist could likely integrate it in under a day. So I “wiffed” on doing that part. Maybe some other time. So, for example, figuring out if the Major Standstill or the Minor Standstill was when the polar / temperate zones were colder would take a while. But once known, would be useful. We had a Major Standstill in 2006, and some folks at least thought that a time of “wild weather”:

    But is that accurate? It would take some time to make the proper tests. I’d likely start with a plot of arctic ice vs lunar Standstill. In short, it would take some work… To me, it looks like the approach to Major Standstill had more Arctic ice melt, then weather got more volatile. But how to allow for this being a 176 ish year solar quiet cycle? Need to look back at other “Major Standstill” dates and come up with the full pattern. Was 1987 “wild weather”? How about 1968? 1950? Or was it the 9 year offset from them? 1959, 1977, 1996, 2015? (really 9.3 years… but that starts to get into actually doing that detailed work…)

    So yes, I left it an “unasked question”. Also unasked was how it shifts over the longer cycles of changes of lunar inclination to the ecliptic and perigee alignments and exact match to which face of the oceans align at those points and… Lots of things “beating together” in this metronomic symphony… Makes a wobbling bowl of fruit jello look simple to predict ;-)

    So feel free to “Dig Here!” ;-)

  8. Ian W says:

    So with the Solar system orbiting the galaxy do the Sun and its planets particularly Jupiter appear like a binary system rather than planets orbiting a central star? After all the barycenter of the solar system is often outside the Sun. If so are there similar gravitational effects at the Solar system level? Do these have beat frequencies with the Earth/Moon binary system and their own ‘standtills’? Could this be the ‘other mechanism’ and the cause of some the chaotic behavior of the planets could be explained by the Sun not being ‘fixed in the sky’ but actually in its own orbit ‘falling’ toward the galactic center weaving in and out of the paths of the planets which are similarly falling toward the galactic center?

  9. Espen says:

    Thank you! This is so interesting and inspiring stuff.

    One thing which struck me: There obviously was a sudden step change in Europe in 1988. I know we’ve discussed that period before, it coincides with the end of the soviet era and with The Great Dying Of Thermometers. But I think there’s plenty of evidence that the 1988 shift was real, and contrary to what the warmists say, it was a step change. In most of Europe their temperatures went significantly up. In Norway, where I live, there was a shift to a wetter climate (a unique shift, the warm period in the 30s and 40s didn’t see the same) which has been shamelessly marketed as our “wilder and wetter climate due to climate change”. But it obviously happened more or less in a single step, the major weather systems around Europe reorganized over a short period of time.

    But guess what? There was a major standstill around 1988!

  10. omanuel says:

    Thank you, Chiefio, for this post.

    Your findings again raise the issue: “Was ancient astrology of more value to society than modern-day consensus science?”

    Regretfully, the correct answer may be an affirmative one. Responses to date by leaders of the scientific community to questions about relevance are not encouraging.

  11. Ralph B says:

    Outward appearances are that too many researchers are stuck in the thought that our celestial system is predictable and don’t second guess the models. It may be that some take this paper seriously, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see most brushing it off as too far out there. A perfect example is archaeologists labeling everything as religious rather than thinking ancient observatories as useful in forecasting for planting.

    What a relief to have EM blogging again…this is by far my favorite website. The way he dredges up good stuff like this, kind of makes me think of the guy in Lucifers Hammer that thought to save all his library by sealing them in ziplock bags…been a while since I read the book can’t remember his name or all the details…

  12. clivebest says:

    This is an excellent article. I have been thinking along the same lines

    There are also atmospheric tides and these have noticeable effect at the poles during winter when there is no solar radiation. Measurements of surface ozone in Antarctica show a lunar cycle. There are several papers which describe correlations of drought in N. America and Asia with the 18.6 year precession cycle.

    At a major standstill the tides at high latitudes and the poles are maximised. Tidal winds are strongest in the high atmosphere. Can these also effect the positioning of the Jet Stream ?

    Interglacials coincide with maxima in orbital eccentricity which remains unexplained. The 100,000 and 400,000 year cycles in earth’s eccentricity are due to regular planetary gravitational resonances. These also perturb the moons orbit around the sun and must also change the earth-moon eccentricity significantly. Are these super tides the trigger needed to initiate interglacials when they coincide with Milankovitch peaks in solar radiation at the north pole?

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ralph B:

    There’s a wiki, but it does not list that characters’ name:
    “Some advanced technical knowledge was maintained by the means of the preservation of the book The Way Things Work, which had been wrapped in impermeable plastic and submerged in a septic tank prior to Hammerfall and later retrieved by a resourceful character who realized its potential value and likely scarcity in a post-Hammer world.”

    http://www.nss.org/resources/books/fiction/SF_018_lucifershammer.html doesn’t list the savior of tech either…

    Sparknotes doesn’t seem to list that character:

    http://bookstove.com/science-fiction/book-review-lucifers-hammer/ has a summary that might have that character name:

    The major characters include Harvey Randall, the television documentary reporter whose career disappears along with wife and home when the comet hits; Timothy Hamner, the amateur astonomer who witnesses what follows his finding of the comet bearing his name; Harry Newcombe, who doesn’t abandon his mail route, even with the end of the world; Dr. Dan Forrester of the Jet Propulsion Lab, who arrives late on the scene to become Jellison’s Merlin; General John Baker who witnesses the comet strike from space and brings his partner and two Soviet cosmonauts back to Jellison’s ranch, just in time for war; and the Reverend Henry Armitage, who leads a crusade by a homicidal mob of cannibals to whom he offers absolution as long as they help him rid the world of the remnants of civilization and bring on the end times. The one image that stuck with me from when I first read the book a few decades ago is of a young surfer who finds himself riding a thousand-foot wave across downtown Los Angeles as other surfers drop off beside him, leaving him alone, aching from fatigue, thinking that he might make it when he slams into a building taller then the wave.

    Was it Forrester who was the diabetic with the tech books?


    Has most of the text (first 70 ish pages skipped) but that leaves out the character list and I don’t have time to wade through the whole thing…


    has in comments:

    GeorgiaBoy September 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I love it Thomas! Now tell me the first two books Dan Forrester bagged up- a list of those books would make a good post.

    Thomas T. Tinker September 4, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Georgiaboy: I like the question! “.. Alice in Wonderland and The Water Babies…” Per page 282. As to the whole list… on the same page and again later in the story when the ‘Mail Man’ brings him to Trouble Pass. The last listed is “Volume Two of The Way Things Work. Volume One was in the septic tank.”

    Thomas T. Tinker September 4, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    GeorgiaBoy, heres one back at ya. What did Dr. Dan pack in his last ziplock bag……? Hint… what is was and what it smelled like are the same thing.

    Harold September 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Well he took two ziplocks with him if I remember the story and one contained one of the volumes of “How things work” and the other had dead fish he had teased out of hiding and caught bare handed. Hope my memory has sufficed since I did not dig out the book to refresh it.

    So I think it is Dr. Dan Forrester…

    Which is sort of an example of how I ‘dredge stuff up’… persistence and filtering through a lot of stuff that doesn’t make the cut…


    Yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that “keeping out the junk” is more important that creating new erroneous papers. In ancient times, only the very best stuff got worked on and saved. Not enough time for folks to work on junk or spend time on things that didn’t work. (Though they had a lot wrong as they were starting from a very low base… but so much of the old writings, like Marcus Aurelius, are clear and clean.)

    @Ian W:

    Interesting thought… I’ve not ‘done the math’, but my sense of it is that the solar velocity through the galaxy is much much faster than planet orbital velocity, so planets orbit the sun. Then again, the reality is that the planets and sun make sprials around the galactic core, not neat elliptical orbits. Saw a video of that on yutube somewhere…

    I did briefly look at the local star cluster. Just long enough to realize that the “Who orbits whom?” would be nearly impossible to sort out by inspection. So many moving parts that it’s just a mess. Though at a few light years out, the forces are small and frequency of approach is low. Even then, though, we get the odd star making 1 light year approaches on million year time scales. There’s a very real possibility for Gas Giant rogue planets and / or dwarf stars and / or other wandering stars to get close enough to mess up our orbits every Billion or so years. It would be interesting to run a simulation and look at the stats… but not enough time, money, and such to take on that project. Sigh.


    Thanks! Glad you liked it.

    Interesting connection to Europe… When the Gulf Stream shifts just a bit in end point or volume, Europe goes cold. IMHO an extreme Major Standstill could cause a bit of a ‘switch off’ for a while. What’s missing from the above is a plot of how Major Standstill changes over time. Syncing it with Earth Perigee, Lunar Perigee, changes of obliquity and eccentricity for both and finding what happens when all of them are lined up ‘just so’… Someone else can do that ;-)

  14. Espen says:

    E.M., the Gulf Stream supposedly isn’t as important for the mild climate of Europe as once thought – it’s the Rockys that do it (see http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/issue.aspx?id=999&y=0&no=&content=true&page=5&css=print)

  15. Chiefio,
    This kind of thing is way above my pay grade. I am gobsmacked as usual.

    Next week I will be teaching at UCF in Orlando. If you have the time, I will be available for lunch on on Sunday, February 2 if you are interested in roast beef and Yorkshire pudding……………..

  16. Ralph B says:

    That’s the guy…he also had them develop mustard gas to defeat the cannibals. Been quite a while since I read it…the ’70’s when it first came out.

    Back to the moon being a harsh mistress, and possibly messing with climate. I started to look into atmospheric tides to see what sort of affect the moon has. The wiki says the sun has more affect, and there is a paper by Lindzen http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/29_Atmos_Tides.pdf but I haven’t gone through it yet

  17. John Andrews says:

    Why didn’t I get to learn this stuff when I was 25 instead of 80? It might have been useful! Thanks again.

  18. Paul, Somerset says:

    Your answer to Phil Jourdain’s comment that a binary planet system may be a prerequisite for life:
    “Also, realize that this “mixing” makes our planet more benign everywhere. If we had not sloshing back and forth, the equator would be uniformly warm, the poles frozen. Likely completely different species would evolve for the different zones. How well would a planet develop with competing intelligent species? Good or bad? Interesting Science Fiction novel idea lives in that point…”

    Would species necessarily have “evolved” much at all in the absence of regular, guaranteed fluctuations in weather and climate caused by a planetary twin like our Moon? Without sudden shifts to hostile conditions, I wonder whether any mutations in living organisms would ever have found circumstances in which they would have proved beneficial enough to alter the direction of future generations. Basically, without adverse changes of one sort or another, I’m not sure life would have evolved much beyond the bacterial stage. And your essay makes a very good case for the Moon being the most frequent cause of such changes on our planet.

  19. omanuel says:

    @ Paul, Somerset and E.M. Smith

    I agree. Earth’s constantly changing climate likely catalyzed evolution into “competing intelligent species.”

    The continued evolution and advancement of mankind have been stymied for the last sixty-eight years, since the end of the Second World War, by two politically-motivated falsehoods that were disguised as “consensus science,” “standard scientific models,” “settled science,” etc.


  20. Wayne Job says:

    Thanks chief,
    This post is stirring the pot with evidence [heaven forbid] it is timely, the derision Tallbloke et al have been copping is nothing short of antiscience.

    I do hope Willis and others come here and have a good think about their ideas of planetary climate controls. Last night I watched a doco on Chaco canyon, miles of huge constructions when no one really lived there. Miles of buildings aligned to the machinations of the sun and the moon.

    It would seem that the ancients had a better understanding of the real world than we do.

  21. Sera says:

    Shouldn’t we be celebrating Major Standstill, and Minor, and the midpoints? And how come we call Luna ‘the moon’ or ‘the earths moon’- why do we not call her by her name? We spend so much time naming every single planetmoonasterioddwarf, and we always address them by their names/numbers, but not our own moon (see, I did it right there). We use the word ‘lunar’, but refuse to call her by her proper name. Why?

    This calls for a bar-b-que. And another drink.

  22. A C Osborn says:

    Chiefio, can you have a look at why Clive Best’s comments have got stuck in moderation please?
    I am not sure which of the 2 moon threads he posted on, so I commenting on both.

  23. LG says:

    A couple of Diagrams illustrating the actual orbital paths of the Earth-Moon system.

  24. LG says:

    A video animation:

  25. I’ve no problem with those proposed mechanisms playing a part in the ever changing sizes positions and intensities of the permanent climate zones and the jet stream tracks threading between them.

    The important thing to remember, though, is that those changes are the negative system response in operation which ensures that radiative balance is maintained between the Earth system and space whatever internal system forcing elements try to disrupt that balance.

    More GHGs from our CO2 emissions may shift the zones and jets a miniscule fraction but we could never tell in comparison to changes induced by solar and oceanic variations.

  26. philjourdan says:

    A picture is worth a thousand words, and that one was worth a lot more!

  27. joe says:

    Great to have you back blogging. minor typo, forgot the k: The Ancients (k)new something about the Major Standstill and that it mattered a great deal.

    [ Reply: Thanks. Fixed. Guess out of all that having one ‘type faster than think’ is ok ;-) -Chiefio ]

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    My apologies to Clive Best. He has a comment 56634 up thread that was stuck in moderation for a couple of days. (What can I say? Today was all work until now, 9 at night. Yesterday the spouse took me on a ‘behind the scenes tour’ of a local Catholic Church where the Priest explained all the parts you normally don’t see… but that was AFTER we’d headed to the hot tub and I discovered my house keys were not in my swimming suit… So after a long soak of the head, I got to break into my own place… which I was able to do non-destructively being a clever sort, but with the cost of time… so no blogging for a couple of days…)

    Clive’s comment is well worth pondering.


    You said:

    This is an excellent article. I have been thinking along the same lines

    Thanks! Hopefully the referenced paper helps too.

    There are also atmospheric tides and these have noticeable effect at the poles during winter when there is no solar radiation. Measurements of surface ozone in Antarctica show a lunar cycle. There are several papers which describe correlations of drought in N. America and Asia with the 18.6 year precession cycle.

    Yes, I’d left out the atmospheric tides. Not enough time to think about them and say something worth reading ;-) But they DO matter. Ditto the drought. Just how much do the more extreme drought periods depend on extreme lunar ranges? Like the Egyptial Old Kingdom vs New Kingdom transition of severe drought? Definitely a “dig here”.

    At a major standstill the tides at high latitudes and the poles are maximised. Tidal winds are strongest in the high atmosphere. Can these also effect the positioning of the Jet Stream ?

    All good points. I’d expect some impact on the Jet Stream and maybe even the Polar Night Jet.

    Interglacials coincide with maxima in orbital eccentricity which remains unexplained. The 100,000 and 400,000 year cycles in earth’s eccentricity are due to regular planetary gravitational resonances. These also perturb the moons orbit around the sun and must also change the earth-moon eccentricity significantly. Are these super tides the trigger needed to initiate interglacials when they coincide with Milankovitch peaks in solar radiation at the north pole?

    I think you are right on that. Everyone looks at the Earth orbit eccentricity for Milankovitch cycles. Nobody seems to look at the lunar eccentricity. What if there is a lunar 100,000 year dramatic eccentricity excursion? Since our lunar numbers presently are wrong, we can’t yet say what does happen… Just how “super” can a super tide get if lunar eccentricity can go to a ‘crazy extreme’? And since the lunar orbit is around the sun, not the earth, just what is the limit on “eccentricity” of that wander back and forth relative to the earth? Can the lunar vs earth eccentricity go to near unity with the moon going nearly overhead, as long as the lunar / sun eccentricity is “reasonable”? (The lunar angle to the ecliptic is 5+ degrees, so it is well able to go above / below the earth. Graph here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Earth-Moon_ScaledTo_Basketball-Tennisball.png compares the “orbit” of the moon around the earth to having a basket ball be the earth under the basket, then the moon is the size of a tennis ball and the range of the tilt to the ecliptic is about the height of a tennis racket.)

    I don’t know enough orbital mechanics to say just what is forced, and what is “unlikely”. I do know that we can’t solve the “N body problem” for numbers much larger than 3. There are far more bodies than 3 in the solar system. So what is a “stable lunar orbit”? Does lunar / solar eccentricity have to stay such that the moon is “beside” the earth, and not go “above” it? How do we know?


    Interesting idea. I’ll have to read it a bit later, though.


    Sounds good to me! Sunday the spouse goes to church and most of the time I’m free all morning / afternoon. If lunch is “after church”, she can come too.

    @Ralph B:

    Hmmm… how could solar have more effect on atmospheric tides and moon on water? Interesting… (More to read… after a cup of late tea ;-)

    @John Andrews:

    Well, you are welcome! Besides, 80 is just 25 with a whole lot more experience base ;-)

    @Paul Somerset:

    Well, life still has competition with other life to drive it. OTOH, once a niche is nicely filled, the rate of change tends to drop off. Think sharks and turtles. Design pretty much a done deal. Similarly soil fungi and palm trees. Grasses, grazers, dogs and flu viruses not so much ;-)

    @Wayne Job:

    Yup. The ancients “knew something” IMHO. I’ve set part of my time aside to try to figure out just what… And it is very clear, from several different lines on different continents, that the moon is a BIG central part of it. I think that is not an accident nor a muse.

    Per Willis and Tallbloke. Pains my heart. I like them both, and to see the cat fight… just sad.

    I spoke up on the Willis article that maybe a bit more polite was in order. Got a slap from CTM. Like folks taking up sides instead of looking at the facts. Not likely to get in the middle of that again.


    It seems that many of the Ancients did, in fact, mark the Major Standstill. I’d not spent much mindshare on it before now; but I intend to look more into ancient monuments and such and how Major Standstill figures in. Many have a “lunar alignment” that is set at Major Standstill, but folks just call it a “lunar alignment” not a “Lunar Major Standstill Alignment”. It typically is in the fine print that the Ancients bothered to make it a Major Standstill Alignment… and then just as an afterthought that this is a far (N or S) as it goes so it sort of makes sense… leaving out that it might mark A Very Big Thing…

    I, for one, will likely use Luna more and “the moon” less, now that I finally got it into my head that it’s a planet in orbit around the sun, only sort of dancing with us…

    BBQ and drink? Works for me… I think I’ll do polish sausage and / or chicken and nice wine at the next sunny dinner time ;-)

    Speaking of which, my wine glass is empty, I’ll be back in a bit for the rest of the comments.

  29. E.M.Smith says:

    @A C Osborn:

    Answered on the other thread, and a bit above. The basic issue is that I’ve gone to a “White List” so most folks posts just fly right through. Thus I’m not required to actually “moderate” much. A new poster goes to moderation until white listed (then I get to watch for a while to assure they stay nice and play by the rules). After white listing, their comments have zero wait time. All well and good.

    Unless something comes up and I think “There hasn’t been a comment needing moderation for a week, I can probably skip a day…” or “life happens”. This weekend, “life happened” as noted above. Clive posted on Saturday sometime after I’d done my last check. Saturday being the “do everything for the week” day (laundry, shopping, food prep-ahead, car maintenance, etc. etc.) it gets busy. Sunday being the “day of rest”, gets busy too ;-) In this case, as detailed above, the spouse had booked me for an event. I’d just put the “Sunday roast” into the oven when we went off to the hot tub and I realized that the house keys were not in my swim suit pocket… A couple of hours later, just in time for the roast to be done, I was back in the house… then we got whisked off to a “behind the scenes tour” of a very nice Catholic Church in Celebration, Florida. After that, there was the Sunday “catch up” of all the things not done while getting the other stuff done plus some TLC for the scrapes of coming in through a very very small window… (Details upon application of beer or wine…) That leads to today, where it was up at 6 and dead run through the work day and making dinner until, well, just a bit ago when I got to service the queue and found a new poster had joined the party.

    The good news is that Clive is now White Listed so anything he says will go straight up (unless it hits a ‘naughty word’ as defined by WordPress and who knows how they decide what’s a trigger; but it isn’t often.)

    At any rate, it serviced now.


    Nice additions! I think I’ll add the graphics to the posting so it’s easier to see them.

    What they don’t show well is the “up and down” motion of the moon. Luna has a 5+ degree incline to the ecliptic, so it also bobs “up and down” relative to the Earth. Such that it can be up to 28.x degrees above or below the equator (when added to our axial tilt). As the above comment about basket balls, tennis balls, and tennis rackets pointed out, it can be “above” the Earth by the amount that a tennis racket exceeds a basket ball. It is that “bobbing up and down” that has me wondering about Super Tides that it might cause. Especially if the lunar eccentricity relative to the Earth is not limited to our current experience, but can change more than most as it really has its orbital eccentricity determined by the Luna / Sol dynamic, not the Luna / Earth one.

    @Stephen Wilde:

    Yes. Here I’m only pointing out that the lunar orbital metrics are NOT what we expect, are demonstrably so (given the eclipse data) and this means that the tides (water and air) are NOT what we expect during those extreme times (Major Lunar Standstill). That this implies weather will be “different” then (but not sure which way or just how much) and that this matters.

    Basically, pointing out a relative big unknown. Might be gigantic if some of the “strange bits” could happen (like a lunar loop nearly over head once every 5000 years) or might be “only moderate” if something in orbital mechanics I don’t ken constrains the moon to a more limited eccentricity. (That we don’t have right at this time, so who knows…) Could explain the historic reports of mega-tides, and could explain some of the ‘odd’ changes in Interglacial Period. Or not… (I just love a good mystery ;-)

    I would expect a lot of the result to ‘elaborate’ more or less in keeping with your thesis (as I think you have it more right than most) but don’t really know what would happen in big extremes (should they happen). Perhaps something you could think on? What happens to your model if “super tides” happen both in the sea and the air, more tidal mixing makes the oceans very cold, and the Arctic ice cap is turned to rubble by giant tides / waves?


    Which picture?

  30. John F. Hultquist says:

    Hi, Chiefio. I noticed you were back making some comments around and then saw you had posted on Luna again. I see that you found Clive’s comments and you two seem to be of the same mind on some of this stuff. When your postings went episodic I started reading Paul Homewood’s site (re. the UK) and also Pierre Gosselin’s (Germany and the EU). Anyway, having read here today . . .
    This means that, for example, a Major Standstill that happens over the mid-Pacific ocean will not happen again over that patch of water for 3 x 18.6 years, or about 55.8 years. It is my belief that this is the reason there is an “about 60 year” cycle in the weather of the planet. It is all about tides and ocean mixing.

    . . . I thought of analog (analogue) versus digital. We’ve seen quite a few statements that provide a calculated X-term with an about-Y term. These things always seemed annoyingly troublesome (pesky). But as Luna’s gravity pulls on Earth’s water there is resistance from other forces, such as trade winds blowing in the opposite direction or density differences within the water. Another case would be when the tidal pull is normal to a coast or under-sea ridge versus when the pull is at a slant to that feature. Such things change as the moon-standstills alternate. Maybe the analog “about 60” is the preferred way of thinking rather than the exact 55.8.


    About the Gulf Stream (Espen’s comment): If I could direct some research money toward a question it would go toward looking at the flows of warm salt water from the Mediterranean Sea (over time) and what happens after the water exits westward at the Strait of Gibraltar. It should deflect northward (Coriolis effect). Then what? Also, looking at satellite views of the Atlantic Ocean often do not show the warmth of the Gulf Stream going too far across.
    Wikipedia has a photo:

    Drawn (cartoon) maps usually do, but label it the “North Atlantic Drift.”
    I think less money going toward wind towers and electric car subsidies would not be a bad thing. Not that the money is really there in the first place.

  31. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F. Hultquist:

    I think the North Atlantic Gyre will send exiting Med. water south:

    Though there is that pesky 3D aspect to things… So the salt ought to cause a sink, especially as it cools. Then what? All those bottom forms to flow over and… So who knows where the 3D ends up sending that bit of water once it’s “out the door” and into the Atlantic mixing pond.

  32. gallopingcamel says:

    That would be awesome. Let’s make it “After Church” so your wife can attend and also my wife too. My #6 son (Kevin) is a sophomore at UCF studying electrical engineering. His part time job is at Carmax in Orlando. If he is not working on Sunday he wants to participate.

    We know the place. Let me suggest 12:30 p.m as the time. If that does not work for you we are flexible. If something comes up my cell phone number is {snip!}.

    We are old people who don’t do much anymore so this will be the highlight of our year!

  33. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ve snipped your number. Not a good idea to leave that out where all sorts of scamers, spammers, and bots can get it!

    Planning on 12:30 at Grandma’s Kitchen, with 1 pm as a possible if the Catholic Church at Celebration runs long. We will be attending Mass there prior to lunch. (Spouse is thinking about her bi-annual change of sect being to Catholic this time… ;-)



    Anyone else wants to come, you know where we’ll be!

  34. Sera says:

    Major Lunar Standstill at Calanais (Hebrides)

    Major Lunar Standstill at Chimney Rock (Colorado)

    Major Lunar Standstill at Chaco Canyon (New Mexico)

  35. Sera says:

    Hopewell is a sight that has no alignments to the sun (odd). Instead, every alignment seems to be specifically made for the moon.

  36. A C Osborn says:

    Chiefio, thanks for that.

  37. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. – Sorry, I need to remember which blogs are threaded and not. The short video that LG posted. I read and understood about the binary planet. But it helps to see it in action!

  38. philjourdan says:

    @GallopingCamel – #6 Son??? I quit after 4 (adopted one later for a total of 5). You got me beat! Have a great meeting!

  39. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. – re: becoming Catholic – depending upon where you are, I might know of a sponsor for your wife (and you if you are so inclined). As I have indicated previously – all my mother’s family moved there in retirement. Left the kids and grands to freeze up north! ;-)

  40. Doug says:

    E.M. – There’s a short eBook I read back in 2008 by David Dilley of Global Weather Oscillations Inc., “Global Warming – Global Cooling Natural Cause Found”. He goes into great detail about lunar cycles and its influence on our climate that I think you might enjoy reading.

    [I can send you a pdf copy but I’m not sure if you should print this line.]

  41. p.g.sharrow says:

    Global weirding every 55 to 60 years. Fire,flood,drouth,earthquake, sounds like a good reason to setup an alignment to determine a Major Luna Standstill approach. 8-o. pg

  42. LG says:

    While rereading and digesting this post, this (finally) caught my eye:

    But the core, IMHO, is the major planets moving the Sun, the Sun moving the Moon vs the Earth in orbit together, then the Sun and Moon shifting tides and the distribution of cold water on Earth (along with our L.O.D.). Those changes of water flow and distribution change the typical air temperatures and humidities over the oceans, and that shifts the weather. “Climate Change” starts in the major planets and the Sun. It gets here via the pedantic changes of the Moon and Tides. “As above, so below”.

    If I’m not mistaken, I think I’m hearing echos of Landscheit’s in E.M. ‘s Conclusion.

    Some of Thedor Landscheit’s papers:

    Theodor Landscheidt

  43. philjourdan says:

    Anthony has perhaps another factor that makes life rarer throughout the cosmos. – http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/30/asteroid-diversity-points-to-a-snow-globe-solar-system/

  44. E.M.Smith says:


    You are likely on the road right now… but looks like about 1 PM for Gandma’s Kitchen…


    I’ve seen an animation with a “dot” for every KNOWN body orbiting the sun. It ends up looking nearly solid….. We live in a shooting gallery and don’t notice. Dinosaurs did…. Most likely 535 AD or so start of the Dark Ages did… Soddam and Gamorra did… Tunguska did… the list goes on….

    @P.G.Sharrow: It certainly bears watching and plotting…

  45. E.M.Smith says:


    Spouse is already in the classes, so I presume “sponsored”…

    BTW, I’d class this blog as “semi-threaded” ;-)

    I like to keep things where they can be found again (thread by topic) but as long as things are modestly tidy, don’t mind folks wandering off…. ;-)


    I’ll see if I can find it…

  46. gallopingcamel says:

    Totally awesome to meet Joan and discover she is just as passionate about improving K-12 education as this camel.

    Grandma’s “Lamb and Mint Sauce” was great but beyond my capacity……………..

    We took some Cornish pasties home. They were excellent.

  47. Andrew Mayne says:

    Fascinating as always. I’ve learnt two things (at least): the moon never goes retrograde and the sun has more influence on the moon than the earth. After following some of the ideas, I have this picture of the moon doing a slalom down a half pipe.

    An amusing thought poped into my head:
    Altitude change at Major lunar standstill = 57.2° equals 1 radian.
    With possible links to pi and the pyramids (I’m taking a great step in the dark …)
    Coincidence? Another thing the ancients had spotted?


  48. Pingback: Tides, Vectors, Scalars, Arctic Flushing, and Resonance | Musings from the Chiefio

  49. tallbloke says:

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    It’s the right time to reblog this great post from the Chiefio

  50. Doug Proctor says:

    This is awesome!

    First the paradigm shift to thinkiing of the Earth-Moon as a double planetary in orbit around the sun. The math looks so obvious to be …. obvious, with the implication (as Diane West has it about politics) impossible to be accepted while the observations are accepted.

    And then to show observations superior to Cray-computing: whoa. Someone might find that paper, pencil and THINKING have some value in this world (IBM, along with Big Oil is about to cut off my funding).

  51. Pingback: Lunar Months, Tides; for Vukcevic | Musings from the Chiefio

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