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Orbit and - Orbit and Phases of the Moon The orbit of the...

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Orbit and Phases of the Moon The orbit of the Moon is very nearly circular (eccentricity ~ 0.05) with a mean separation from the Earth of about 384,000 km, which is about 60 Earth radii. The plane of the orbit is tilted about 5 degrees with respect to the ecliptic plane. Revolution in Orbit The Moon appears to move completely around the celestial sphere once in about 27.3 days as observed from the Earth. This is called a sidereal month , and reflects the corresponding orbital period of 27.3 days The moon takes 29.5 days to return to the same point on the celestial sphere as referenced to the Sun because of the motion of the Earth around the Sun; this is called a synodic month (Lunar phases as observed from the Earth are correlated with the synodic month). There are effects that cause small fluctuations around this value that we will not discuss. Since the Moon must move Eastward among the constellations enough to go completely around the sky (360 degrees) in 27.3 days, it must move Eastward by 13.2 degrees each day (in contrast, remember that the Sun only appears to move
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