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Hey, here’s a topic we haven’t really gotten around to yet… Today we look at our closest astronomical companion: the Moon. Fraser: Exactly you know we’ve been doing this show now for 113 episodes and we haven’t even done yet. Yeah, but people ask are you ever going to do any episodes? Pamela: [Laughter] No, we just going to forget important topics. Now one of the really common misconceptions about the Moon and the Sun and how all of these crazy phases work is that the reason that we see part of the Moon in shadows is because it’s actually passing into the Earth’s shadow. The Moon in general stays completely out of the Earth’s shadow.
What impact does the Moon have on our lives, where did it come from, who walked on it, and are we ever going to walk on it again? Fraser: Wait until you hear our topic for next week. Okay today we look at our closest Astronomical companion – the Moon. The only time the Moon gets involved with Earth’s shadow is during Eclipses which occur about every six months.
We’re going to learn about the phases, the tides, and even a little bit about NASA’s plans to send humans back to the Moon. Fraser: So like the Moon is always illuminated, just half of it, right?
If you start off with a nice polite line with Earth, Moon, and Sun then the Moon is going to move up in a counter-clockwise direction.
Fraser: Completely wrong [Laughter] Pamela: Completely wrong. We’ve sent probes all over, we’ve taken maps, and we just generally haven’t seen it with the human eyeball. We don’t get to see that side because we’re on the other side of the Moon from the Sun.
The Moon’s orbit is tilted in relationship to the Earth’s equator. So when you get all of these crazy angles together what you end up with is the Moon is generally in the Sky above the Earth so that you could be standing on the Moon and look over the top of the Earth or under the bottom of the Earth at the Sun off in the distance.
It’s this tilt where you’re going in a loop-d-loop around the Earth that crosses the Equator once when it’s going toward the Sun and once when it’s coming back away from the Sun.
This precise lining of what we call the Nodes – this precise lining up of where the Moon’s orbit crosses the Earth’s equator typically only happens twice a year.
Just to make this clear, it’s not the crossing of the Equator that necessarily causes the Eclipse – although that can happen if you precisely have one at a Solstice.A ‘Full Moon’ is straight overhead at midnight when we’re fully having our back to the Sun and the Moon is facing the Sun – our audience in this case.