The moon is one of the most recognizable objects that appears in our sky and it has existed and has been celebrated for thousands upon thousands of years. Revolving around the Earth, the moon shows its face every night but with each cycle, appearing a little different. This is due to the moon phases- the variety of apparent shapes that it takes on based on our perspective of how sunlight reflects off of its surface from Earth. When the moon is in between the Earth and the Sun, light from the sun is not visible on the surface of the moon. When the moon is in the opposite position so that the earth is in between the moon and the sun, the moon is fully visible to us on Earth as all of the light that is reflected from the sun is visible. This is a full moon because, as the name suggests, the moon appears to be full. In between these two points, the moon can either appear to be a crescent shape, where less than half of the moon is visible, or what is known as a gibbous moon, in which more than half of the moon is visible.
Two types of eclipses may also occur due to the moon’s location in our sky, a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is caught in between the suns light and the surface of the moon. This makes it so that the moon does not receive all of the suns light as it appears in the Earth’s shadow, giving it a reddish hue also known as a blood moon. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is directly in between the sun and earth, causing the moons shadow to be cast down on earth. This form of eclipse is significantly rarer than its counterpart as the moon is much smaller than earth, resulting in a much smaller shadow.
Image received from Moonconnection.com
2 thoughts on “Moon Phases and Eclipses”
Alex I also wrote my blog post on the Moon, I focused on the reasons behind its synchronous orbit and the common misunderstandings that go along with the dark side of the Moon. Since we always see the same side of the moon, all the Moon phases are actually just different light patterns on the same side. That means if you took the face of the moon from a Waxing Crescent and a Half Moon and fully lit them up, they would look the same.
A total lunar eclipse just passed but unfortunately Nashville was pretty cloudy that night…stay tuned in a few weeks when we cover moon phases in depth 🙂