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Ad Astra

My Astronomy Class - Tracking Lunar Motion

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This one is for the early birds. The moon has been showing off as it moves across the sky, over the weekend, it will run past Jupiter, then next weekend, it will run past Venus. This is a chance to see the celestial motion of a body in orbit for yourself. The activity is easy enough, just pencil and paper, or go out and have a look. I am asking students to use Orion as a yardstick to approximate the actual travel of the Moon through the skies. Across the top (Betelgeuse to Belatrix) is about 8-degrees, from Beletrix down to Rigel (Orion's right side) is 15 degrees, and across the belt is about 3 degrees. Comparing distances to these will help you get a feel for how big the sky is - and how large some of these constellations are.

When you sketch the sky for the Moon's pass by Venus, you will find the sky too bright for seeing constellations. Note the Moon's position relative to the horizon each morning from the 10th - 13th.

If you divide the 360-degree orbit by the 27.3 day orbital period of the Moon, you get an average daily motion of just over 13 degrees per day. How does this agree with what you see of the Moon's movement?

Don't delay! If you miss this pass, you will have to wait a month to see it again in early November!

Let me know how you get on! :grin:


Tracking Lunar Motion.pdf

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