January Full Moon at Ascending Node, Almost at Perigee, and a Total Lunar Eclipse

   Sunday January 20th the full 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.

Total Lunar Eclipse   On the day of the node crossing the full Moon also be passing through the Earth’s shadow giving us a Total Lunar Eclipse that will be visible across the continental U.S.A.

   Within less than 15 hours the Moon will also be at perigee, is closest to the Earth for this orbit. This full Moon will be the second closest perigee Moon this year, with the perigee Moon of February as the closest and the ‘Super Moon’ for the year.

   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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