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Animation of the orientations of the Moon's orbit around Earth and the Earth's around the Sun. The Earth's orbital plane (the ecliptic) is shown by the blue grid, with the orange line showing the point on the Earth at which the Sun appears directly overhead. The north pole is marked by the white line pointing towards upper left. The Moon's orbit around Earth is a circular plane, tilted some 5.1 degrees from the ecliptic. The half above the ecliptic is orange and half below blue. The points in the Moon's orbit where it crosses the ecliptic are marked with dots. These are called the nodes, with the blue dot marking the Moon's ascending node (where it moves above the ecliptic) and the red marking the descending node. If the Moon is at one of these nodes when it is new, between the Sun and Earth, as seen when Earth is at bottom here, a total eclipse can occur. Otherwise the Moon passes above or below the Sun as seen from Earth.
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