Reading more about moons, I came across this cool moon animation.
That led me to look up lunation, which Wikipedia says is “the mean time for one lunar phase cycle (i.e., the synodic period of the Moon). It is on average 29.530589 days, or 29 d 12 h 44 min 3 s.” This made me look up what a synodic period was, and that opened a whole new can of worms! Here it is, excerpted from Wikipedia:
The orbital period is the time it takes a planet (or another object) to make one full orbit.
There are several kinds of orbital periods for objects around the Sun:
* The sidereal period is the time that it takes the object to make one full orbit around the Sun, relative to the stars. This is considered to be an object’s true orbital period.
* The synodic period is the time that it takes for the object to reappear at the same spot in the sky, relative to the Sun, as observed from Earth. This is the time that elapses between two successive conjunctions with the Sun and is the object’s Earth-apparent orbital period. The synodic period differs from the sidereal period since Earth itself revolves around the Sun.
* The draconitic period is the time that elapses between two passages of the object at its ascending node, the point of its orbit where it crosses the ecliptic from the southern to the northern hemisphere. It differs from the sidereal period because the object’s line of nodes typically precesses or recesses slowly.
* The anomalistic period is the time that elapses between two passages of the object at its perihelion, the point of its closest approach to the Sun. It differs from the sidereal period because the object’s semimajor axis typically precesses or recesses slowly.
* The tropical period, finally, is the time that elapses between two passages of the object at right ascension zero. It is slightly shorter than the sidereal period because the vernal point precesses.