Tuesday March 31st the 7.5-day old first quarter Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north. 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.
While the first quarter Moon is at its ascending node further to the west, lower than the Moon, is the planet Venus. Over the next couple of days Venus will pass across the open star cluster the Pleiades.
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)
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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