Monday, February 8, 2016

Feb. Phase of New Moon: Chinese Lunar New Year


Extremely slight Waxing Crescent just after New Moon Phase, the time of the
month when the side of the Moon facing Earth is truly the 'Dark Side of the Moon.'
(Image Sources: U.S. Naval Observatory, Slate.com )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The day of the February lunar phase of New Moon marks the first day of the Lunar New Year, celebrated in many East Asian cultures. This month, the New Moon occurs on Monday, 2016 February 8 at 9:39 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) / 14:39 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) (Lunation No. 1152).

The most prominent of Lunar New Year celebrations, of course, is the Chinese New Year. Today, the Chinese celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Monkey (sometimes known as the Year of the Red Monkey or the Year of the Fire Monkey), year 4714. The Year of the Monkey is the ninth of the 12-year cycle of animals of the Chinese Zodiac, related to the Chinese Calendar.

The Chinese do not normally number their years, as do western calendars. Hence, the year 4714 is derived beginning with the reign of the Yellow Emperor from the 3rd Millennium BCE. However, scholars differ on the date of the actual 'year 1' of the Chinese calendar, so instead of 4714, some researchers consider this year to be 4713 or 4653.

The Lunar New Year occurs on the day of the New Moon, near the mid-point between the Winter Solstice (beginning of the season of Winter) and the Vernal Equinox (beginning of the season of Spring). The Lunar New Year can occur on any date between January 21 and February 20. These cultures do celebrate the holiday, beginning at 12:00 Midnight on the day of the New Moon, in their respective time zone.

Although known mostly as “Lunar New Year,” most of these cultures actually follow a Lunisolar Calendar, which indicates both the Moon Phase and beginning of a month, as well as a Solar Year and the appropriate season of the year. While the Lunisolar Calendar is primarily used for local holidays and celebrations, for civil and business purposes the Gregorian Calendar of Western Civilization is used in most of these societies.

In a Lunisolar Calendar, the months are coordinated to the cycles of the Moon. The length of the year is adjusted, periodically, to stay relatively synchronized with the Solar Year. The Solar Year, also known as the Tropical Year, is the period of time from one point in the calendar, until returning to the same point in the calendar the following year (example: Vernal Equinox to Vernal Equinox the next year).

In China, as well as in much of East Asia, the Lunar New Year is steeped in tradition. Also known as the Spring Festival, this centuries-old holiday was a time to honor deities and ancestors. It has been observed, and continues to be observed, in many East Asian cultures including China, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mongolia, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Philippines, Brunei, and by traditionalists in Japan, as well as in ethnic Asian populations around the world. Lunar New Year celebrations can be found in the Chinatown and other Asian districts of several North American cities.

Lunar New Year, not reckoned by the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar, is also observed in Korea (Seollal) and Vietnam (Tet). Tet is actually the shortened name of the Vietnamese celebration of Tet Nguyen Dan, which is Sino-Vietnamese for "Feast of the First Morning of the First Day," which is celebrated as the first day of Spring. During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong and the military of North Vietnam launched a major offensive against South Vietnam and the United States forces (Tet Offensive), at the beginning of the Tet Lunar New Year on 1968 January 30.

More on the Chinese New Year: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year

More on the Lunar New Year: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_New_Year

More on the Lunisolar Calendar: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunisolar_calendar

More on the Year of the Monkey: Link >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_%28zodiac%29

More on the Tet Offensive: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tet_Offensive

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
              2016 February 8.

                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
                     Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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