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Activity Discussion Science & Technology Moon change shape Reply To: Moon change shape

  • Tinkle

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    June 17, 2024 at 3:04 pm
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    The moon’s changing shape, or phases, are caused by the moon’s orbit around the Earth and the relative positions of the Earth, moon, and sun.

    As the moon orbits the Earth, the side of the moon that is illuminated by the sun changes from our perspective on Earth. This is because the moon does not produce its own light, but rather reflects the sunlight that hits its surface.

    The different phases of the moon are:

    • New moon – The moon is between the Earth and sun, so the side of the moon facing the Earth is not illuminated and we cannot see the moon.

    • Waxing crescent – We see a small sliver of the moon’s illuminated side.

    • First quarter – We see the right half of the moon illuminated.

    • Waxing gibbous – More than half of the moon’s illuminated side is visible.

    • Full moon – The moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, so we see the moon’s fully illuminated side.

    • Waning gibbous – More than half of the moon’s illuminated side is visible, but it is decreasing.

    • Last quarter – We see the left half of the moon illuminated.

    • Waning crescent – We see a small sliver of the moon’s illuminated side, decreasing.

    This cyclic change in the moon’s appearance happens about every 29.5 days as the moon orbits the Earth. Understanding the moon’s phases has been important for many cultures throughout history.

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