Officially there are four seasons, but we all know that each of those can be subdivided into many mini-seasons. One of my favorites happens in early fall when the last quarter moon stands high in the southwestern sky long after sunrise. I’m not sure what to call this season. Moon In Your Morning Face?
The waning gibbous moon – the phase between full and last quarter – caught my eye right away when I went to feed the dog this morning. Eggshell white and bright as could be against the blue sky, you couldn’t miss it.
Later, when driving to work, the moon came along for the ride out my window.
It’s the moon’s location along its orbital path that makes it so easy to spot after sunrise in the fall. Both the moon and sun follow the same basic path in the sky called the ecliptic. The sun takes a year to make one complete circuit, the moon only a month.
During the fall, the sun moves south along the ecliptic, vacating the high perch it occupied during early summer. Since nature abhors an empty stretch of celestial highway, the moon sets up shop in the sun’s summertime digs every autumn for about a week’s worth of time after full moon.
That means the moon’s the high roller now – up all morning just as the sun once commanded the long days of June and July. Have a look for yourself the next clear morning. It’s a wonder really to see the moon hanging there in Earth’s blue sky. Two worlds so close yet so different.