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26th December 2015

The Moon appearing from out of a bank of cloud on the horizon.
After a few days of cloudy sunsets around the Winter Solstice I wasn’t holding much hope of getting a picture of the Minor Winter Lunar Standstill Moonrise. Here is a link to what exactly a Lunar Standstill is 
Clive Ruggles would be widely acknowledged as being one of the leading archaeoastronomers in the British Isles and he conducted a statistical analysis of the Stone Rows of Cork & Kerry in 1996 (see link for the paper and from this he conclusively shows that they are aligned to the various standstills of the Moon at it’s Major & Minor points in the cycle. This cycle takes 18.6 years to complete, so the next time the moon will be back at this extreme in the cycle will be in 2033. Why the ancients were so concerned with the Moons cycle is anyone’s guess.
From using an app on my phone called Sunsurveyor & also a handy tool here at I calculated that the Stone Row at Barbaha in North Tipperary was possibly aligned to the Moonrise on the Winter Minor Lunar Standstill. As far as I can make out the Standstill is more of a “season” rather than one exact date (although statistically I’m sure there is a precise point in the cycle that is the exact Standstill) but sometimes moonrise or moonset occurs during the day and would not be possible to view as it is too bright. For the period around Christmas this year both the position the moon rises and the time of day makes it possible to view. The only other factor to consider is the weather.
So to take me back to the start of this, the weather has been pretty cloudy in Tipperary for the last few days and not conductive to celestial observations. The forecast for Christmas Day was terrible and the best shot at it I thought was Christmas Eve. I headed up to Barbaha on Christmas Eve and with a lot of cloud with a few small patches of sky it wasn’t looking very promising. I took a few photos up at the stone row before a hail / sleet shower came in and the whole sky turned grey. At this stage I decided it was best to leave it and head home to a warm house. I waited in the car with a nagging feeling not to go just yet. As luck would have it, I went to turn the car at a gate down from where I parked and on turning I saw the clouds where starting to be pushed away from the area where the moon was predicted to rise. I quickly donned all my wet gear and ran back up to the row. 
The Moon rose exactly where it was supposed to and due to the optical illusion known as the Moon Illusion the Moon appears much larger than in the photographs below and as such was visually even more accurate than my photos. It was great to finally get proof of something that I had long thought about and it looks as if this row can now be dubbed “The Moonstones of Tipperary”. It is also aligned to the Minor Standstill Summer Moonset in the other direction and hopefully there may be a few opportunities to confirm this later next year when it comes very close to the position for this alignment.  
On a less positive note, one of the stones here at Barbaha stone row fell in 2010, probably due to undermining of the soil around it by water (mainly rainfall) and possibly cattle rubbing up against it. It would be great now that this row has been shown to be of great importance to get the stone re-erected as it once stood only a short time ago. I understand it is mainly down to a question of funding for an excavation here. I would guess that the size of the area that would be excavated as part of a restoration would be quiet small and so you would hope that it wouldn’t be that costly. Perhaps if there are any benefactors out there or archaeologists that would be interested in pushing for funding etc I would certainly like to be of help in any way I can. 

The sky when I initially arrived at the hill.
Greyed over and starting to snow and sleet down.

My first zoomed in attempt with my camera.
Disappearing behind a bank of cloud.
Reappearing again.
I messed around with the settings to try and get some more detail of the moon. 

One last picture before it disappeared into grey clouds.