Lunar Perigee and Apogee Calculator
This document is in the public domain.
To display the date, time, and distance of lunar perigees and
apogees for a given year, enter the year in the box below and press
"Calculate". Depending on the speed of your computer, it may take a
while for the results to appear in the text boxes. This page requires
all computation is done on your own computer so you can, if you wish,
save this page in a file and use it even when not connected to the
The Perigee and Apogee Table
All dates and times are Universal time (UTC); to convert to local
time add or subtract the difference between your time zone and UTC,
remembering to include any additional offset due to summer time for
dates when it is in effect. For each perigee and apogee the distance
in kilometres between the centres of the Earth and Moon is given.
Perigee and apogee distances are usually accurate to within a few
kilometres compared to values calculated with the definitive ELP
2000-82 theory of the lunar orbit; the maximum error over the years
1977 through 2022 is 12 km in perigee distance and 6 km at apogee.
The closest perigee and most distant apogee of the year are marked
with "++" if closer in time to full Moon or "--" if
closer to new Moon. Other close-to-maximum apogees and perigees are
flagged with a single character, again indicating the nearer phase.
Following the flags is the interval between the moment of perigee or
apogee and the closest new or full phase; extrema cluster on the
shorter intervals, with a smaller bias toward months surrounding the
Earth's perihelion in early January. "F" indicates the perigee or
apogee is closer to full Moon, and "N" that new Moon is closer. The
sign indicates whether the perigee or apogee is before ("-") or after
("+") the indicated phase, followed by the interval in days and
hours. Scan for plus signs to find "photo opportunities" where the
Moon is full close to apogee and perigee.
The Moon Phase Table
This table gives the time of all new and full Moons in the
indicated year, as well as the last phase of the preceding year and
the first phase of the next year.
- Meeus, Jean.Jean
Algorithms. Richmond: Willmann-Bell, 1998. ISBN
- The essential reference for computational positional
astronomy. The calculation of perigee and apogee time and distance
is performed using the algorithm given in Chapter 48.
- Meeus, Jean.Jean
Meeus:Astronomical Formulae for Calculators. Fouth Edition.
Richmond: Willmann-Bell, 1988. ISBN 0-943396-22-0.
- This book, largely superseded by the more precise algorithms
given in Astronomical Algorithms, remains valuable
when program size and speed are more important than extreme
precision. The date and time of the phases of the Moon are
calculated using the method given in Chapter 32, and are accurate
within 2 minutes, more than adequate for our purposes here. The
more elaborate method in Chapter 47 of Astronomical
Algorithms reduces the maximum error to 17.4 seconds (and
mean error to less than 4 seconds), but would substantially
increase the size and download time for this page, and the
calculation time for each update.
- Chapront-TouzÈ, Michelle and Jean Chapront.
Lunar Tables and Programs from 4000 B.C. to A.D. 8000
. Richmond: Willmann-Bell, 1991. ISBN
- If you need more precise calculation of the Moon's position
than given in the references above, you're probably going to end
up here. This book presents the ELP 2000-85 theory which, while
less accurate than ELP 2000-82, has been tested for stability over
a much longer time span. ELP 2000-85 generates predictions of
lunar longitude accurate to 0.0004 degrees for the years 1900
through 2100, and 0.0054 degrees for the period 1500 through 2500.
- Chapront-TouzÈ, Michelle and Jean Chapront. Lunar
solution ELP 2000-82B.
- This is the most precise semi-analytical theory of the Moon's
motion for observations near the present epoch. Machine-readable
files for all of the tables and a sample FORTRAN program which
uses them to compute lunar ephemerides may be obtained from the
Astronomical Data Center
at the NASA Goddard
Space Flight Center by FTP across the Internet, or on CD-ROM,
along with a wide variety of other astronomical catalogues and
tables. This material is intended for experts in positional
astronomy and computation. If you can't figure it out, don't ask
me for help.