18: If we were at the North Pole, when would we see the moon?

Answer: (continued) This is an illustration of the model you could use to explore this concept. Note that the illustration is NOT drawn to scale, but we are recommending that you make the Earth-Moon part of the model to scale. Also, see explanation below.

Model of Earth-Moon-Sun system as seen from above North Pole

Model:  [illustration is not to scale]

At the North Pole, the moon would still be in the sky about half of the time, but it would be due to the moon's orbit around the Earth. Because of the tilt of the Earth's axis, you would see the part of the moon's orbit which would be in the direction the pole is tilted toward. (see illustration below)

  • Summer: At the beginning of summer, when the sun is highest in the sky (and daytime all of the time), the moon would be in the sky for (approximately) 2 weeks; the 2 weeks closest to New Moon. (Granted, we can't see the moon when it is close to the sun in the sky, but you could observe it through the wider crescent phases.) Then the moon would be below the horizon for 2 weeks.
  • Fall: At the beginning of fall, when the sun is at sunset all of the time, the moon would be up in your sky for the 2 weeks closest to Last Quarter (waning), and then below the horizon for the next 2 weeks.
  • Winter: At the beginning of winter, when it's nighttime all of the time, the moon would be in the sky for the 2 weeks closest to Full Moon, and then below the horizon for the next 2 weeks. (see illustration below)
  • Spring: And at the beginning of spring, when the sun is at sunrise all of the time, the moon would be up in the sky for the 2 weeks closest to First Quarter (waxing), and then below the horizon for the next 2 weeks.
    Earth Sun Moon Model from Side
    In the winter, from the North Pole, you'd be able to see the moon for the 2 weeks closest to Full Moon. This is because the Earth's North Pole is tilted toward that direction.

[Credit: Earth and moon images in the illustrations were created using Starry Night]