December Perigee Moon Hits the Bull’s Eye

14dec-perigee_moon   The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Monday December 12th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 28.1 Earth diameters (356,509 km or 221,524 miles) from the Earth.
   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*
   On the day of the lunar perigee the 13.5-day old waxing gibbous Moon rises at around sunset local time and is over the southwest horizon at sunrise the following morning. The Moon is also very close to the star Aldebaran in the v-shaped open star cluster making the face of Taurus the Bull, the Hyades. Depending on your location this may be an occultation of the star by the Moon, or a very close conjunction. Nonetheless with binoculars or a wide field telescope eyepiece the Moon superimposed on the Hyades should make for great viewing.
   *Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

   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 monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.

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