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The time of day when the sun at its zenith, relative to the observer, is called "noon."

What is the lunar equivalent? "Moon's zenith" sounds so clunky.

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    You could call it high moon :-) – Jay Elston Feb 26 '13 at 20:02
  • Hah, clever! Post that as an answer! – JD. Feb 26 '13 at 20:05
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    Surely it's 'midnight' -- really as close to 12am as noon is to 12pm. – JAM Feb 26 '13 at 20:08
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    @JAM Nope. Midnight tracks the sun, not the moon. The moon is only occasionally opposite the sun. – ghoppe Feb 26 '13 at 20:10
  • @ghoppe I did not know that. – JAM Feb 26 '13 at 20:11
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Zenith, in its sense “(astronomy) The highest point in the sky reached by a celestial body”, actually is quite suitable for the purpose. In some sentences, lunar zenith may read slightly better than moon's zenith.

A term that is technically correct but may be misunderstood is transit, in its sense “(astronomy) The passage of a celestial body across the observer's meridian”. A problem with transit is that another sense, “The passage of a celestial body ... across the disk of a larger celestial body” is more-commonly associated with moons and satellites than is the meridian sense , which is often associated with stars. Thus, previously-mentioned culmination's sense “(astronomy) The attainment of the highest point of altitude reached by a heavenly body; passage across the meridian; transit” may be a better choice.

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  • Interesting... it seems that transit is indeed technically the most correct since it refers to the occurrence itself. Whereas zenith or culmination refer to a position or altitude and not the time it occurs. Unfortunately, it seems transit has more than one meaning in astronomy. However, in regular English, I agree that lunar zenith sounds best. – monex0 Feb 26 '13 at 22:48
  • Believe it or not, the moon can culminate without reaching it's zenith. Reason: the moon's declination changes fairly rapidly, so the moon's elevation/altitude can continue increasing after culmination. (see astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/937 for details) – user3065 Nov 21 '13 at 21:44
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One can say zenith moon as a counterpart to noonday sun, although it is not nearly as common.

Note that the astronomical term zenith actually refers to the point directly overhead the observer, not the highest position a celestial object rises over the horizon, which would be its culmination.

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  • If you ask google to "define zenith" google.com/search?q=define+zenith it gives "the highest point reached by a celestial or other object" as the first definition and yours as the 2nd definition. Even as an (amateur) astronomer, I've used zenith to mean highest point, not overhead. – user3065 Nov 21 '13 at 21:42

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