Sunday, 14 February 2016

Syzygy: random word of the day

The alignment of three celestial bodies in a gravitational system.

This isn't actually all that rare - it happens every full moon and new moon. If one defines a lunar month as being from new moon to new moon (the western standard), then it takes a little over 29½ days. This is called a 'synodic' month (synod = meeting, coming together). The other definitions of lunar month last 27.2-27.6 days.

Not sure where they pinched it from

In other words, the idea that the average menstrual cycle length of 28 days is linked to the lunar cycle is perhaps a touch fanciful.

Syzygy has a theoretical Scrabble score of 26, except that standard Scrabble only has two Y tiles.

Other random facts:

  • Monday, as with the Romance and Germanic languages, is linked to the Moon. 
  • A 'lunatic', is someone who is 'moonstruck'. Despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, there is no increase in hospital admissions on a full moon (with a possible exception for schizophrenics).
  • A 'blue moon' is properly the third full moon in an astronomical season with four full moons; more often it is the second full moon in a calendar month. Either way, a blue moon happens every two to three years, so not really all that rare.

References from Wikipedia and Brewers: syzygy and lunar month

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