Does the moon orbit the earth?

As the Moon is rotating around the Earth, the Earth isn’t standing still. It is rotating around the sun, covering over 45 million miles during a lunar cycle. That is a distance of just over 660 million football fields! The extra 2.2 days in the lunar phase cycle comes from the Moon “catching up” to its starting point, which because of the Earth going around the sun, is further away. As a result, the Moon has phases because it is rotating around Earth in a lunar cycle.

This cycle is incredibly predictable, and although it does not line up with the Gregorian calendar we use, it is the basis for it. At 29.5 days, the lunar cycle is nearly as long as a month, with 12 cycles roughly equaling a year. As a result, numerous ancient calendars, including some used by various religions, have kept the calendars for placing the new years religious festivals and holidays. For additional information on the Moon’s influence on our culture, see “Special Phase Names.”