Star Planting - Citizen Science experiments: 2014

By Brian Keats

2005-2008 / 2013 / 2014 /2021


BD Calendar Guild and Research

An informal international guild of calendar compilers was formed in February 2012 with the aim of working collaboratively with Mark Moodie to farther research into biodynamic planting practices. Mark who has set up databases to gather and analyse research results through Considera took advantage of a visit of mine to the UK to organise a face to face meeting with Nick Kollerstrom, Mark and I as well as having Sherry Wildfeuer join us via phone. As a result of this meeting we agreed upon dates and times that could be helpful in the investigation of the effects of 2013 eclipses on seed-plantings. These were then published in four calendars: Stella Natura (Sherry), Gardening and Planting by the Moon (Nick) and my Antipodean Astro and Northern Hemisphere Astro calendars. Mark is still gathering data from this international experiment and the results will not be known in time for the 2014 calendar editions.

This same guild, in conjunction with Mark, met by phone in June 2013. There had been small but encouraging participation in the experiment from both hemispheres was the feedback. We then decided upon the following for 2014:

  • to invite other calendar compilers to join the guild;
  • to suggest dates for readers to continue investigating the question “Does planting seeds at the time of an eclipse have a negative effect on the germination and growth of a plant?”
  • to offer dates to investigate a second question  “Does planting seeds at the time of a lunar perigee have a negative effect on the germination and growth of a plant?” Lunar perigee is defined as the moon's closest distance to the earth in its 27.55 day cycle.

    Background to Lunar Perigee Plantings

Maria Thun advocated that planting seeds in the period 7 hours before and 3 hours after a lunar perigee was not beneficial to subsequent plant growth. Maria Thun's and derivative calendars have this period marked as a non-planting time.

I am of the opinion this is true for some of the perigees but not all of them and more so in some years than in other years. This opinion comes from my experience in observing the weather, being familiar with astronomical rhythms and realising that the weather and the plants are dancing to the same tune which is being called by the Sun, Moon, planets and stars.

Every perigee is different, as is every full moon, as is every peak declination (ascension or descension). I have just listed 3 different lunar rhythms which take place every month. It is important to consider them in relationship to each other.

You will find that up to twice in every year the perigee takes place within 12 hours of the full or new moon ie the perigee/apogee rhythm is in synch with the lunar phase rhythm. This beautiful fact comes about as 14 full moon cycles takes 413.32 days and 15 perigee cycles takes 413.42 days. When this occurs you will notice:

that it is the closest perigee of the year (proxigee) around 357,000kms;
that a fortnight before or after the proxigee is the most distant apogee around 406,600km;
that there are very high and very low tides in this period;
that there will be widespread unusual or extreme occurences of weather (including earthquakes).

These lunar periods are known as “supermoons” a term coined by Richard Nolle and defined as “ a new or full moon which occurs with the moon within 90% of its closest approach to Earth”. The “supermoons” are 7.5 lunar months apart, alternating between new and full moons. Sun, Moon and the Earth are in a straight line on this occasions (syzygy). Lunar rhythms have a correlation to rhythms in all fluids (including molten lava beneath our tectonic plates and plant sap). The extreme weather tends to be in a period 3 days either side of the the proxigee moon.

In 2014 the perigee distances will range between 356,900 at the proxigees to 369,800kms. Tidal forces are inversely proportional to the cube of the moon's  distance and consequently there are huge differences within this range. It is well worth taking note of those perigees under 358,000kms each year.

In my experience of perigees prevailing climatic and weather / atmospheric conditions  become exaggerated. If is tending towards wet, then it will be very wet and if it is a hot period, then it will be very hot! If it was summer I could expect floods in the tropics but heatwaves in a temperate zone. This could be fine tuned by consulting a synoptic weather forecast to see where the high and low pressure cells are likely to be located (I publish an annual forecast for Australia 1 year in advance).

With a sense of anticipation of what could happen weatherwise in a particular month I can plan my horticultural activities. If a close perigee (under 360,000kms) is pending when my prevailing weather conditions have been warm and moist I could expect fungal activity to be rife and take prophylactic actions accordingly. That perigee, under those conditions, would obviously have a negative effect on seed plantings. However if conditions had been very dry it could well turn out to be a favourable time.

You will find the more distant perigees are farther away, time wise, from the full and new moons, the respective lunar rhythms are not in synch.

Why choose 2014 to run Lunar Perigee experiment?

I will start off by saying why 2013 was not a good time to run the experiment!

I have already mentioned that every 7.5 lunar months the phase cycle synchronises with the perigee/apogee cycle. Well, every year, another pair of lunar rhythms come into phase with each other. Around every winter solstice the  full moon coincides with its peak ascension. When the Sun is at its weakest the Moon is at its strongest.

In 2013, three lunar rhythms came into synch culminating in the June full moon which took place on the perigee and at peak ascension. All three have correlations to increasing tide heights. All three  indicated relationships to seed germination rates in Ernst Zurcher's report on  research work into plant rhythms “Chronobiology of Trees: synthesis of traditional phytopractices and scientific research, as a tool of future forestry”.

Having an extra lunar rhythm in synch with the perigee cycle to contend with in 2013 was not ideal.

2014 does not have that complication and below are the perigee dates with distances of the Earth from the Moon. The zodiacal element as per Thun is also given to help in the choice of seeds to plant. The closest perigees are numbered 1 to 4 – NB there are two proxigees, one at new moon and one at full. The Proxigee new moon wil  give the highest tide of the year, which will be supported by the perihelion that week. The proxigee full moon will give you high tides too but that month will have the lowest tides.

The 2014 perigees are all taking place in the southern hemisphere. The perigees progress through the zodiac and hence the hemispheres as 5 zodiacal constellations are over the southern hemisphere and 5 of the north (Pisces and Virgo are over the equator). The 2015 proxigee moon will be in Pisces and by 2016 it will be in Aries and thereby over the northern hemisphere.

I suggest that the perigees in 2014 will have a more pronounced effect in the southern hemisphere, particularly over the late winter period with the proxigee taking place in August. Repeating the experiment in 2016 for example, would help to discern if there is a hemispherean difference in a perigee's influence on seed germination or plant growth.

Australian Eastern Standard Times (UT + 10 hours) are given below for the 2014 planting trials:

Jan 02 7:00 356921 Fire Proxigee New Moon
Jan 30 19:58 357100 Earth New Moon (2)
Feb 28 5:52 360400 Earth  
Mar 28 5:30 365700 Air  
Apr 23 11:27 369800 Earth  
May 18 22:58 367100 Fire  
Jun 15 14:34 362100 Fire  
Jul 13 19:27 358300 Earth Full Moon (3)
Aug 11 4:43 356896 Earth Proxigee Full Moon (1)
Sep 08 14:29 358400 Air Full Moon (4)
Oct 06 20:41 362500 Air  
Nov 03 10:21 367900 Air  
Nov 28 9:11 369800 Earth  
Dec 25 2:43 364800 Earth  

Brian Keats

June 2013