Why the Moon Rises and Sets

Understanding why the moon rises and sets at different times requires understanding two basic facts.

First, just like the sun and the stars, the moon rises and sets because of the earth’s rotation.  Because the earth rotates from west to east, the moon rises in the east and sets in the west as do the sun and the stars.

But unlike the sun and the stars, the moon itself is rotating around the rotating earth.  And the moon is rotating from east to west.  This countermotion causes the moon to rise and set about fifty minutes later each day than the day before.

As a result, sometimes the moon may be setting just when the night is beginning or sometimes it may be rising just as the sun is coming up.