Lunar day

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

A lunar day is the period of time it takes for the Earth's Moon to complete one full rotation on its axis with respect to the Sun. Equivalently, it is the time it takes the Moon to make one complete orbit around the Earth and come back to the same phase. It is marked from a new moon to the next new moon.

With respect to the stars, the Moon takes 27 Earth days, 7 hours and 43.2 minutes to complete its orbit; but since the Earth-Moon system advances around the Sun in the meantime, the Moon must travel further to get back to the same phase. On average, this synodic period lasts 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds. This is an average figure, since the speed of the Earth-Moon system around the Sun varies slightly over a year, due to the eccentricity of the orbit. The Moon's own orbit also undergoes a number of periodic variations about its mean value, due to the gravitational perturbations of the Sun.

Alternate usage[edit]

The term "lunar day" may also refer to the period between moonrises in a particular location on Earth. This period is typically slightly longer (50 minutes) than a 24-hour Earth day, as the Moon revolves around the Earth in the same direction as the Earth's axial rotation.[1]

Lunar calendars[edit]

In some lunar calendars, such as the Hindu calendar, a lunar day, or tithi, is defined as 1/30th of a lunar month, or the time it takes for the longitudinal angle between the Moon and the Sun to increase by 12 degrees. By this definition, lunar days generally vary in duration.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Animation of a lunar day". NOAA. Retrieved 1 May 2012.

External links[edit]