Skip to main content. This FAQ is intended to give teachers some background so that they can better teach lessons about the moon. The FAQ is not intended to be read by elementary age students since many of the concepts are too abstract for them to understand yet.
For elementary aged students, simple observations of the changing appearance and position of the moon are a good place to start. Teachers, if you are confused by the answers below, don't feel bad: Send us a question and we'll keep trying!
Does the moon have day and night? Why isn't the moon visible every night or every day? Are the phases different in the northern and southern hemispheres? Why don't the phases of the moon happen on the same day each month?
So exactly how long does it take the moon to orbit the Earth? If I observe the moon at noon, and then again that evening, would the phase be the same? What causes the moon to shine?
Wouldn't the earth block the light from the sun to the moon? Could light from the sun bounce off the earth and hit the moon? Is there a cute way to remember the phase terms?
I am always mixing up waxing and waning. Also some people say "no moon" for new moon. Would the earth appear to go through phases for an observer on the moon? Does the moon rise and set at the same time each day?
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Why isn't the quarter moon called a half moon? If we are seeing a full moon here in the United States, would people in India see the full moon? Why does the Harvest Moon look orange when it rises? Do the times on the day-time moon calendar apply to my time zone? If we were at the North Getting pole waxed in the army now, when would we see the moon? Which phases of the moon can we see during the day?
Does the moon have a North Pole? Why is the crescent moon at sunset sometimes tilted like a backwards "C", and sometimes flat on its back like a "U"? Many people have heard that Getting pole waxed in the army now same side of the moon always faces the earth, and because of this, many think that the moon does not rotate. It does rotate, exactly once for each orbit around the earth. Imagine looking down on the Earth and Moon from above the Earth's north pole.
To illustrate this, place two coins on a table-top, one for the earth and one for the moon. Choose a reference point on the "moon" coin and place it closest to the earth e. Now move the "moon" in a circle around the "earth" coin but keep Lincoln's head pointing to the earth. You will see that to accomplish this, you must rotate the penny exactly once for every trip around the earth. See an animated version of the graphic you see to the right.
Every side on the moon experiences day and night. Since the moon rotates on its axis once each month see previous questionany given location on the moon would see a "day" about two weeks long, followed by a "night" of the same length.
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Your students may make this connection themselves by realizing that the visible face of the moon is darkened e. Look at the picture to the left. The photo is one of very few that exist that show the Earth and Moon together in the same picture. It's easy to tell which is the day and night side of Earth.
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The relationship is the same on the moon, which we're used to seeing in phases. There is a day and night side of the moon too.
The moon is only visible during part of each month. Whether it's visible during the day or night depends on how "far" the phase is from full or new. The moon orbits the earth once approximately each month.
As a result, sometimes the moon appears very close to the sun in the sky, and sometimes it Getting pole waxed in the army now far away from the sun in the sky. When the moon is opposite the sun in the sky which is when full moon happensit will rise as the sun sets and set as the sun rises.
Therefore, a full moon will be up all night long, but not during the day. The further before or after full moon in daysthe more the moon will be visible during daytime hours when the sun is in the sky. However, as the moon gets very close to new moon when the moon and the sun are closest togetherit is very difficult or impossible to see in the daytime sky. The phase of the moon would appear the same no matter where you are on the planet Earth.
If an observer in Florida sees a full moon tonight, and observer in Wisconsin will also see a full moon tonight. However, if you traveled from one hemisphere to the other you might notice a difference. Here in the northern hemisphere, we say that when you see a phase that looks like a half-circle, and it's Light on the Left side, it's Last Quarter.
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So, when it's light on the right it's First Quarter. However, look at the illustration. An observer Getting pole waxed in the army now the southern hemisphere Argentina would see the moon upside-down compared to the way we are accustomed to seeing it USA. See also question 1517and our Crescent Moon Around the World page. The phases of the moon do not happen on the same days each month because the moon's orbit around the Earth does not take exactly one month.
Actually, there is no such thing as "exactly" a month because our months are different lengths, some with 30 days, some with 31, and even one with 28 or 29 days depending on whether it's a leap year or not.
Calendar makers many years ago originally tried to make our months relate exactly to the phases of the moon, but quickly became frustrated because they would then not be able to have 12 equal months for one year.
Unfortunately, 12 full moons do not equal one day year.
It's not even close. Calendar makers eventually decided to Getting pole waxed in the army now with a solar year of days with a leap year every fourth year and to make the months vary between 30, 31, and 28 days.
Because of this, moon phases can happen anywhere during the months. This explanation can be a bit confusing, so have patience. Why are these two "moonths" not the same? The answer has to do with the Earth and moon relationship to the sun. If you chart the moon's position every night for a full month, you could compare its position with a bright star, and then wait to see how long it takes for the moon to come back to its position relative to that star.
Since it takes nearly an entire month for the moon to go through its full cycle of phases, the change that happens over a period of a few hours is very small.
A careful observer with a telescope could note the change, but to somebody looking at the moon with the unaided eye, the phase will appear exactly the same within a period of several hours. The moon does not shine by its own light, but by the reflected light of the sun. We see the moon because the sun is shining on it.
The surface of the moon is actually very rocky and fairly dark about the color of the asphalt on most of our city roads.
But because it is so close to the earth, it provides enough light at night to cast shadows when it is full or nearly full. Many people grow up with the idea that the phases of the moon are caused by the shadow of the earth. The earth does cast a shadow as does any object in sunlightbut the moon usually passes above or below it.
When the moon does pass through the earth's shadow, it is called a lunar eclipse see illustration at right. When the moon passes into the shadow of the earth, it can at first glance mimic some of the phases, but the effect is in fact very different.
A lunar eclipse, when the moon IS in the earth's shadow, can only happen when the moon is full on the opposite side of the earth from the sun.
Click on the illustration to the right to see an animation of a lunar eclipse 41k. By the way, the shadow of the moon can also hit the earth. When this happens, observers on earth will see either a partial solar eclipse or a total solar eclipse if they're lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Reflected light from the earth does hit the moon. This is most noticeable when the moon is in a thin crescent phase.
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Look at the thin crescent moon at night, and you may notice a dim, ghost-like circle of the full moon. The part that is very dim and ghost-like is shining by sunlight reflecting off the earth, and then off the moon, and back to your eyes. This is called "earthshine" and Getting pole waxed in the army now relatively common. Since most people observe the crescent moon in the evening just after sunset, this is sometimes called "the new moon in the old moon's arms" the crescent is the young or nearly "new" moon, the earthshine illuminated part is the "old" part.
For an illustration, check out the Special Note on the Difficult Waxing Crescent page of our moon calendar.
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To know when to go out and look for the "earthshine", look for a waxing crescent phase on current month of our moon calendar. A few come to mind. There may be more, but this is what I use: If you are waxing something a caryou are putting wax on.
Since you are adding wax to the car, the car is getting bigger. Therefore, for a waxing moon, the phase is getting larger each night. Execution by firing squad, in the past sometimes called fusillading is a method of capital A firing squad is normally composed of several military personnel. may be Getting pole waxed in the army now a "dummy" cartridge containing a wax bullet instead of a lead bullet. Josef Wende and Stephan Kortas, two Poles drafted into the German army.
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