Matt (mm511) wrote in little_details,

Moon problems

Hi. It's me again, back with more astronomy questions. This is for a different story, though!

The Backstory

So we're on a planet. Insofar as it supports life, it's earth-like, but I don't care about size or distance from the sun or any of that jazz. (At least not directly.) There's one sun. There're two moons.

The Questions

I need to know what types of configurations these two moons could get themselves into. That is, one of my cultures is very heavily inspired by the moons, and so I need to know how the two moons relate to each other -- do they orbit close together, so they can always both be seen in the sky? Do their phases stay in sync? Does one revolve around the planet much faster, so half the time the moons are both there and the other half it's one or the other?

You're going to ask me for details, and the details don't really matter. I mean, I'd like one moon to be marginally larger than the other (i.e., noticably larger from a planet's perspective), but that's really all I care about. I can make up colors as I go. But I need to know how the phases will work with each other and how the orbits will work.

Also, please keep in mind this is for a fantasy novel, so there will be no space travel or any of that jazz, so specific numbers and fancy words aren't important. (Also, I'm not a math major, but I can handle an equation or two, so if you want to throw a few of those at me, go for it. But remember, I'm NOT a math major, so... )

The Searches

I've searched for various permutations of the words 'orbit,' 'moon,' 'simulation,' and their derivatives. I looked through the astronomy posts here in this community, and while I found a few interesting ones about moons, nothing too specific.

The Plea

Help, basically. Ideally, I'd like to find some sort of lunar simulator, so that I could type in, say, the mass and distance of these moons (which I'd pick arbitrarily) and then see where they are in relation to each other and what they look like to an observer on the planet. I've found things like this for Earth, but the second moon thing kinda effs that simulation for me.

But if such a thing doesn't exist, any sort of generic info would be wonderful. I know virtually nothing about astronomy, besides the bit I've picked up trying to figure all this jazz (and my planetary ring jazz) out. I apologize in advance for being vague and indeterminate... but that comes with not having a clue about any of this. If I need to tell you anything else, let me know and I'll make it up as best I can.

Tags: ~science: astronomy
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