Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Quite often I go out in the morning and I'm in Milton Keynes, so I would expect the moon to rise in the east and set in the west. Sometimes at about 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning the moon is low in the east. I was just wondering how that worked out?

share|cite|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Well, let’s zoom out for a bit and imagine you're off of the Earth and you’re looking at the Earth and the moon from space. So you have the Earth as the bigger of the two bodies sitting let’s say, in the centre and the moon is in orbit around the Earth.

So the moon goes around the Earth and the moon takes a month to do a complete lap of the Earth and get back to where it started, 28 days to do a complete orbit of Earth.

Also, inside the moon’s orbit, the Earth is turning and the Earth takes 24 hours to do a complete circle. So therefore, as the Earth turns then it’s going to see the moon from one side of the Earth go across the sky and then down on the other side. So, you're going to see the moon rise and set. But because the moon is also doing a lap around the Earth, the moon is going to appear at different points in the sky at different times of the day and night. So sometimes the moon will be up during the day.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.