Lunar month

Animation of the Moon as it cycles through its phases, as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. The apparent wobbling of the Moon is known as libration.

In lunar calendars, a lunar month is the time between two successive syzygies (new moons or full moons). The precise definition varies, especially for the beginning of the month.

This article deals with the definitions of a 'month' that are mainly of significance in astronomy. For other definitions, including a description of a month in the calendars of different cultures around the world, see: month.


In Shona, Middle-Eastern, and European traditions, the month starts when the young crescent moon becomes first visible at evening after conjunction with the Sun one or two days before that evening (e.g., in the Islamic calendar). In ancient Egypt the lunar month began on the day when the waning moon could no longer be seen just before sunrise. Others use calculation, of varying degrees of sophistication, e.g., the Hebrew calendar or the ecclesiastical lunar calendar. Yet others run from full moon to full moon. Calendars count integer days, so months may be 29 or 30 days in length, in some regular or irregular sequence. In India the month from conjunction to conjunction is divided into thirty parts known as tithis. A tithi is between 19 to 26 hours long. The date is named after the tithi ruling at sunrise. When the tithi is shorter than the day, the tithi may jump. This case is called xaya or loap. Conversely a tithi may 'stall' as well, that is - the same tithi would be associated with two consecutive days, a case which is known as vriddhi.

In common law, a "lunar month" traditionally meant exactly 28 days or four weeks, thus a contract for 12 months ran for exactly 48 weeks.[1] In the United Kingdom, the lunar month was formally replaced by the calendar month for deeds and other written contracts by the Law of Property Act 1925 and for all other legal purposes by the Interpretation Act 1978.[2]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Maanmaand
العربية: شهر قمري
Bân-lâm-gú: Sok-bōng-goe̍h
भोजपुरी: चंद्र मास
Deutsch: Lunation
Esperanto: Lunmonato
føroyskt: Mánamánaður
français: Mois lunaire
हिन्दी: चंद्रमास
Latina: Lunatio
Nederlands: Maanmaand
日本語: 朔望月
română: Lună lunară
中文: 朔望月