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Sun, Moon and Earth

27 26 the Breath oF the moon major and minor standstills The monthly extreme northerly and southerly risings and settings of the Moon gently breathe in and out either side of the Suns extreme solsticial positions, taking one nodal period to complete the breath. This greatly alters the possible maximum rise and set positions of the Moon each month with respect to the solsticial positions of the Sun. There are thus eight limiting lunstice positions, four for rises and four for sets opposite top. The distance of these extreme positions of the lunstice from the solstice position is dependent on the latitude of a location. In southern Britain they occur more than eight degrees either side of the solstice positions opposite below. These extreme stations of the Sun and Moon drew the attention of neolithic astronomers who made alignments of stones in their honour. At the major standstill, the Moon describes her wildest monthly swings of rising and setting, gyrating to her highest and lowest ever paths across the sky, all within one sidereal month. 9.3 years later, at the minor standstill, the Moon calms down and the range always lies inside the extreme solsticial positions. In contrast to the Sun, Moon and planets, the backdrop of stars rises and sets, each star in its alloted position for scores of years, irrespective of the season or time of day. Over longer periods of time even these move slowly the cosmos is always in motion, yet always in place.
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