Forgive me if my terminology is incorrect, but is there someway or somewhere when I can calculate based on my location when the moon will be at the highest point in the sky overhead based on my location? Per year for example? I've been searching around the internet and haven't found a calculator or something that could do that.

For context.. I'm working on an architectural project and looking into if the moon will ever be visible through a certain skylight, even if it is for only a short period of time per year. I'm located in Calgary, 51.0447° N, 114.0719° W

I'm currently using some parametric software to show the moons location within the 3D modeling software, but I can only input dates and get the location, not search for the highest point etc, so I can't really pin down when it will be the highest.


  • $\begingroup$ It's a bit tricky because of the 18.6 year precessional cycle of the lunar nodes. See Lunar standstill. Maybe someone can whip up a script in astropy (or similar) that can do the required calculations. It'd help if you could give the range of altitude & azumuth angles visible through the skylight. $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Jan 15 at 18:57

Let's suppose, that moon is always located on the ecliptic. Ecliptic ranges from declination $\delta=-23.5°$ to $\delta=23.5°$. That means, that the maximum apparent height of the Moon in Calgary will be $90°-\phi+23.5°=90°-51.04°+23.5°=62.5°$

But moon isn't always located on the ecliptic. Its inclination is around 5.14°. That means, that it can deviate from the ecliptic for such amount. So the maximum height changes to $62.5°+5.14°=67.6°$. But note that this won't happen every month, but rather every year.

This is just a simple geometrical problem. On figure: Figure 1

Also, the culmination (the highest point) on northern hemisphere always occurs on the south.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. And am I right to assume that this maximum height would be around the winter solstice each year? Just looking at some tables it seems that this is the case. $\endgroup$ – Matt Stewart Jan 15 at 21:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes and no; the full Moon is higher in the sky in the winter, but the new Moon (which is invisible, so let’s say the thin crescents) are lower in the sky in the winter. $\endgroup$ – Pierre Paquette Jan 15 at 22:55

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