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Whatever purpose the builders of the ancient stone tower in Newport’s Touro Park had in mind, there can be no denying that it functions reliably today as an astronomical calendar.
Just ask Jim Egan, curator of the Newport Tower Museum — if you have the time. He’ll tell you how, back in December 1996, when the “full-moon Lunar Minor alignment” appeared through the west and northeast windows, William Penhallow, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at the University of Rhode Island, predicted that it would not happen again for about 18 years.
At a major lunar standstill, which takes place every 18.6 years, the range of the declination of the Moon reaches a maximum. As a result, at high latitudes, the Moon's greatest altitude (at culmination, when it crosses the meridian) changes in just two weeks from high in the sky to low over the horizon. This time appears to have had special significance for the Bronze Age societies who built the megalithic monuments in Britain and Ireland, and it also has significance for some neo-pagan religions. Evidence also exists that alignments to the moonrise or moonset on the days of lunar standstills can be found in ancient sites of other ancient cultures, such as at Chimney Rock in Colorado and Hopewell Sites in Ohio. (from the wikipedia link above)