October Moon at Ascending Node

   Saturday October 14th the waning crescent 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.

   On October 14th the thin 24-day old waning crescent Moon will be just crossing into the boundaries of the constellation Leo the Lion. The Moon will be located about 12o from the heart of the Lion, the star Regulus. Rising above the eastern horizon is the ‘Red Planet’ Mars, and nearby the inner planet Venus.
   These two planets are close enough for both to be seen in the field of view of binoculars. Within that same field of view is the 3rd magnitude star Zavijava in the constellation Cancer the Crab, contrasting interestingly with Venus at -4th, and Mars at 2nd magnitudes.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as many graphics show? 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*

*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 return to bobs-spaces.

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