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Smallest full moon of the year to coincide with Lantern Festival

02/22/2024 05:13 PM
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The largest and the smallest full moon this year are shown in this graphic released on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Taipei Astronomical Museum Feb. 22, 2024
The largest and the smallest full moon this year are shown in this graphic released on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Taipei Astronomical Museum Feb. 22, 2024

Taipei, Feb. 22 (CNA) The smallest full moon of the year will fall on the Lantern Festival this Saturday, in an alignment that will not occur again until 2086, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said Thursday.

In a press release, the museum noted that Lantern Festival is traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

On the calendar, the first and 15th day of each month coincide approximately with the respective dates of the new moon and full moon, it said.

However, because each lunar phase lasts 29.53 days, the odds of the full moon falling precisely on the 15th day of the month are less than 40 percent, the museum said.

Almost half of all full moons land on the 16th day of the month, while a small portion fall either on the 14th or 17th day, according to the museum.

This year's Lantern Festival -- which falls on Saturday -- will coincide not only with a full moon, but also the smallest full moon of the year, for the first time since 1962 and the last time until 2086, the museum said.

It explained that because the moon's orbit around the Earth is an ellipse, rather than a perfect circle, it is sometimes closer to Earth and sometimes farther away, making the moon appear larger or smaller.

While the smallest full moon of the year will occur on Saturday, the largest will take place on Oct. 17, the museum said, adding that the two moons' apparent size difference will be similar to the difference between a NT$1 and NT$5 coin.

(By Chen Yu-ting and Matthew Mazzetta)

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