Originally posted by CherubBaby
If you have seen a "Boat/ SmileyFace / Cheshire Moon you need to look at the link below and read the first short paragraph..
First of all, I assume you are under the impression that only
the equator will ever
see a perfectly horizontal Moon. That is NOT
I understand why you may think this. You probably think this because you are under the assumption that only the Earth's equator is the only part of
the Earth ever aligned with the Sun's ecliptic plane. The ecliptic plane is like the solar system's "equator" and basically slices through the
middle of the Earth-Moon system (**actually, the Moon is slightly off the ecliptic plane, but for simplicity's sake, it's good enough to say it is
aligned with it).
Therefore, the Earth's equator -- if it was aligned with the Sun's ecliptic plane -- should be more "directly under the Moon" than any other place
That's why it's quite understandable that you would think that the Earth's equator is the only part of the Earth aligned with the Sun's ecliptic
plane. The plane slices though the middle of the Earth, and the equator is at the middle of the Earth -- Right? Actually, you would be wrong to
think this. You are forgetting about the 23.5° tilt of the Earth....
...Due to the earth's tilt, the equator is actually NOT the only place on Earth that can be aligned with the Sun's ecliptic plane, and it is NOT the
place on Earth that is most "directly under the Moon".
For an explanation of this, look at the image below:
This image shows the basic configuration of the Earth right now (in December). Because of the tilt of the earth, the Northern hemisphere (on this
drawing. let's say it's showing "North America", rather than the whole northern hemisphere) is tilted "up" away from the Sun during the day. It
is also tilted "up" away from the Sun's ecliptic. This is why North America is approaching winter.
However, as the Earth rotates and North America heads into night, you can see that due to the tilt of the Earth
, North America in December is
actually tilted "downward" at night much closer to the Sun's ecliptic plane
and more directly under the Moon.
In fact, because of the tilt of the Earth, southern parts of North America are more aligned with the Sun's ecliptic than the equator is. Right now,
the "boat Moon" is more perfectly horizontal in Mexico City (at 20° N latitude) that at the equator. Today at the equator, the Moon should look
NOT as horizontal as it would from Mexico City.
In fact, due to the tilt of the Earth, there are places in the United States that should see the moon as being more horizontal than it would look from
I certainly understand that because the equator is generally close to the Sun's ecliptic all the time that the tilted moon would be more prevalent
all year round
. However, that does NOT mean that a heavily tilted Moon can NEVER be seen from anywhere but the equator.