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Talk About the Moon

The is always moving, like us, and it makes certain dates on the calendar spectacular to watch! This post is filled with awesome explanations about the Moon’s many phases and special dates, like, full moon’s. I did not write the in-depth material, because that is not my field. So I filled it with lots of information for you to learn about Full Moon’s, Lunar Phases and the Moon’s 8 Phases. 

  • What is a Lunar Phase? 

“The lunar phase or phase of the moon is the shape of the illuminated (sunlit) portion of the Moon as seen by an observer on Earth. The lunar phases change cyclically as the Moon orbits the Earth, according to the changing positions of the Moon and Sun relative to the Earth. The Moon’s rotation is tidally locked by the Earth’s gravity, therefore the same lunar surface always faces Earth. This face is variously sunlit depending on the position of the Moon in its orbit. Therefore, the portion of this hemisphere that is visible to an observer on Earth can vary from about 100% (full moon) to 0% (new moon). The lunar terminator is the boundary between the illuminated and darkened hemispheres. Each of the four “intermediate” lunar phases (see below) is roughly seven days (~7.4 days) but this varies slightly due to the elliptical shape of the Moon’s orbit. Aside from some craters near the lunar poles such as Shoemaker, all parts of the Moon see around 14.77 days of sunlight, followed by 14.77 days of “night”. (The side of the Moon facing away from the Earth is sometimes called the “dark side”, which is a misnomer.”

Source: Lunar Phases

  • Did you know the Moon has 8 Phases? 

  • Moon’s 8 Phases

“Phase 1 New Moon – The side of the moon that is facing the Earth is not lit up by the sun. At this time the moon is not visible.

 Phase 2Waxing Crescent – A small part (less than 1/2) of the moon is lit up at this point. The part that is lit up is slowly getting bigger.

Phase 3First Quarter – One half of the moon is lit up by the sun at this point. The part that is lit up is slowly getting bigger.

Phase 4Waxing Gibbous – At this time half of the moon is lit up. The part that is lit is slowly getting bigger. Waxing means to slowly get bigger.

Phase 5Full Moon – The side of the moon that is lit up by the sun is facing the Earth. The entire moon is lit up at this point.

Phase 6Waning Gibbous – The moon is not quite lit up all the way by sunlight. The part of the moon this is lit is slowly getting smaller. Waning means to slowly get smaller.

Phase 7Last Quarter – Half of the moon is lit up but the sun. The part that we can see lit up is slowly getting smaller.

Phase 8Waning Crescent – A small part of the moon is lit up at this point. It is getting smaller by the minute.”

Source: Moon’s 8 Phases

  • Here is what the phases actually look like:

“The average calendar month, which is  1⁄12 of a tropical year, is about 30.44 days, while the Moon’s phase (synodic) cycle repeats on average every 29.53 days. Therefore, the timing of the Moon’s phases shifts by an average of almost one day for each successive month. (Lunar year=354 days.)”

“Photographing the Moon’s phase every day for a month, starting in the evening after sunset, and repeating approximately fifty minutes later each successive day, ending in the morning before sunrise, would create a composite image like the example calendar from May 8, 2005, to June 6, 2005 here in the left. There is no picture on May 20 since a picture would be taken before midnight on May 19, and after midnight on May 21. Similarly, on a calendar listing moon rise or set times, some days will appear to be skipped. When the Moon rises just before midnight one night it will rise just after midnight the next (so too with setting). The ‘skipped day’ is just a feature of the moon’s eastward movement in relation to the sun, which at most latitudes causes the moon to rise later each day. The moon has a predictable orbit every month.”

  • Here is the Moon, moving through phases quite swiftly

  • Here are some misconceptions about the Moon: 

“It might be expected that once every month, when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun during a new moon, its shadow would fall on Earth causing a solar eclipse, but this does not happen every month. Nor is it true that during every full moon, the Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon, causing a lunar eclipse. Solar and lunar eclipses are not observed every month because the plane of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is tilted by about five degrees with respect to the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun (the plane of the ecliptic). Thus, when new and full moons occur, the Moon usually lies to the north or south of a direct line through the Earth and Sun. Although an eclipse can only occur when the Moon is either new (solar) or full (lunar), it must also be positioned very near the intersection of Earth’s orbit plane about the Sun and the Moon’s orbit plane about the Earth (that is, at one of its nodes). This happens about twice per year, and so there are between four and seven eclipses in a calendar year. Most of these events are quite insignificant; major eclipses of the Moon or Sun are less frequent.”

Source: Lunar Phases


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