On Thursday December 31st the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.
The waning gibbous Moon rises before midnight local time and is visible in the morning skies. Watch the Moon over the next week or so as the Moon moves eastward passing bright planets and stars near the ecliptic.
Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as this graphic shows? From our perspective on the Earth the Moon appears to circle around the Earth. However, in reality, the Moon orbits the Sun together with the Earth*
Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.