Lunar alignments at the Octagon

The southern least (or southern minimum) moonset over the north wall of the Newark Octagon, October 18, 2015.

The moon follows an 18.6 year cycle.  The Newark Octagon, built two thousand years ago by ancestors of today’s American Indians, aligns with eight “standstill points” in the cycle of the moon.

Those who built the Octagon understood that every month the place on the horizon where the moon first rises moves south for roughly 14 nights and then returns again. Further, the distance it moves between the first and 14th night grows greater every month for 9.3 years and then shrinks again until it is the same distance it had been at the beginning.

These ancient Indians identified four times over 18.6 years when the rising moon seemed to stop going in one direction and began going in the other: the northernmost rising of the moon and the southern-mostthe northernleast and the southern least. They also observed another four times when the setting moon did the same:  the northernmost and southernmost moonset, the northern least and southern least moonset.