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Quickie Questions - Moon Madness - Phases/Viewing

Date Answered Questioner (age, location) Question Answer

January 12, 2010esther (age 11, fl) why does the moon changes the way it appears throught the moon ? The different "shapes" of the moon are related with the changing position of the Moon with respect to the Sun that leads to lunar phases. Our web page Phases of the Moon explains the reasons for these phases.
January 6, 2010Brenna (age , USA) What is a Harvest Moon? The harvest moon is the moon at or about the period of fullness that is nearest to the autumnal equinox.
October 19, 2009Edmond (age 60, USA) what is the total number of days from new moon to new moon? The time interval between new moons (also knows as a lunation) is variable. The mean time between new moons is about 29.53 days.
August 17, 2009rose (age 12, south africa) Why does the moon appear to change shape and does it have atmosphere? The apparent change of the Moon shape is the result of the combination of the motions of our planet and the Moon. Our website Phases of the Moon offers a clear explanation, including figures, for this phenomenon.
August 17, 2009Samantha (age 14, New Jersey) What are the phases of the moon for May 2009? The US Naval Observatory (USNO) offers this service through its website Phases of the Moon.
July 28, 2009Jonathan (age 16, MD) How can I tell where the Sun is by looking at a picture of only the Moon? By looking at a picture of the moon you can determine where the Sun is considering the phase of the moon. Our web page Phases of the Moon could help you on this.
April 17, 2009Chris (age 16, Illinois) Is it common to have a U shaped moon in January and February in Illinois? Is it supposed to be U shaped? Please, visit this web page for information on Moon Phases and Moonrise & Moonset Times for Illinois.
March 19, 2009rachell (age 33, texas) what is it called when you can see a full moon during the day? This is called a Waning Moon.
March 17, 2009Gail (age 42, Arkansas) How do I find out what type of moon appear on each individual day for that month? The US Naval Observatory (USNO) offers this service through its website Phases of the Moon.
March 4, 2009tamia (age 13, florida) what are the order of the moons phrase For example, if today the Moon were a waxing crescent, then tomorrow the crescent shape would continue to grow larger, approaching first quarter. After first quarter, the Moon would be a waxing gibbous, and continue growing until it reached full. The Moon would then begin to shrink, becoming first a waning gibbous and eventually reaching third quarter. Following third quarter it becomes a waning crescent, and continues to shrink until it becomes invisible at new Moon.
March 2, 2009joshua (age 14, texas) why does the moon look different at different parts of the month Please, visit our web page Phases of the Moon which offers very clear explanations and diagrams on this topic.
February 13, 2009ruby (age 14, Texas) Why do you see the moon in the middle of the day? For the same reason we see it at night, because the sunlight is reflected by the moon surface. Some times we don't see the oon during the day because it is too dim and close to the Sun, or because it is on the other side of our planet.
January 26, 2009Jess (age , ) This Department of Defense web page provides a way for you to obtain a table of the altitude and azimuth of the Sun or Moon during a specific day, at a time interval that you specify.
September 25, 2008MONIKA (age 19, NEW DELHI, INDIA) I WANT TO KNOW THE PATH OF ORBIT OF MOON TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ECLIPSES AND PHASES OF MOON. You can find all this information in our web site. See, for example, our web page Lunar Eclipses and the links therein.
May 23, 2008nikkily (age 10, philliphines) why is it they have many differnt phases in the moon The lunar phase changes as the Moon orbits the Earth and different portions of its surface are illuminated by the Sun. PLease, visit our web page Phases of the Moon for more detailed information.
May 8, 2008Mike (age 12, Missouri) Can we see the moon at night every night? Or is there a time when we can not see the moon at all (with or without telescope)? The moon is always on the sky, but sometimes, when we have the New Moon, its unilluminated side is facing the Earth.
April 17, 2008Katelyn (age 8, FL) Does the moon rise at the same time and the same location every night? And how can I chart it for a Science Fair Project for school? No, the moon does not rise at the same time and place. You can find the times for your location here. Just enter the name of your city or town in the U.S.
April 15, 2008Jayda (age 11, California) What makes the moon glow? The reflection of the sunlight!
March 25, 2008WILLIAM (age 11, texas) HI.I need help. when i woke up I saw a moon with the sun. MY friends tell me about it but dont get it CAN YOU help me It is fairly common. Because the moon orbits Earth about once a month, there are about two weeks when the moon is positioned in such a way that sunlight can still be reflected by the moon surface and reach us. For one of the other two weeks, the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun and we can see the moon during the night. For the other week, the moon is on the same side of the Earth as the sun and we can't see it as the side of the moon nearest us in darkness.
February 28, 2008Matthew (age 9, Maryland USA) Over the course of several days we have observed the moonrise to occurr at a later point each evening. Is this normal? What causes it? The difference appears to be somewhere between 1 and 2 hours difference. You are right. Due to the relative motions of earth and Moon, the moonrise does change with the days. For a table with the year information of the Moon rise/set for your location, visit this page.
February 28, 2008Matthew Bowie (age 9, Maryland USA) Over the course of several days we have observed the moonrise to occurr at a later point each evening. Is this normal? What causes it? The difference appears to be somewhere between 1 and 2 hours difference. You are right. Due to the relative motions of earth and Moon, the moonrise does change with the days. For a table with the year information of the Moon rise/set for your location, visit this page.
January 12, 2008afiqah (malaysia) what is the phases of the moon? At any position around Earth, half of the Moon is illuminated by the Sun (the light side of the Moon) and half is not (the dark side). Also, half of the Moon is visible to the Earth (the near side of the Moon) and half is not (the far side). As the Moon moves around the Earth, we can see different fractions of the illuminated half of the Moon. More information on our web page Phases of the Moon.
January 10, 2008phebe (ga/usa) If one complete hemisphere of the Moon is always lit by the Sun, why do we see different phases of the Moon? The short answer is that at any position, half of the Moon is illuminated by the Sun (the light side of the Moon) and half is not (the dark side). Also, half of the Moon is visible to the Earth (the near side of the Moon) and half is not (the far side). As the Moon moves around the Earth, we can see different fractions of the illuminated half of the Moon. I recommend you to visit our web page Phases of the Moon for a more detailed explanation and a clear diagram that shows the phases of our moon.
January 2, 2008christi (TX farmers branch) why does the moon appers and disappers in the sky once in a month? This is called Phases of the Moon. Please, visit our web page of the same name for a good explanation of this phenomenon.
January 1, 2008Dick (Florida) Does the moon orbit the earth in the same manner every 29.5 days? In other words can I expect to see the moon (when it is visible) in the same position in the sky at 7 PM every evening? Or does its position shift further west (at 7PM) as its phase moves through the 29.5 days. The moon position on the sky changes from month to month. For example, in Boulder, Colorado, the moon raised today (January 1, 2008) at 07:23 and will set at 16:46, but on January 29 the moon will raise at 07:13 and will set at 17:16. So, there will be a shift in the moon position for the same time for each cycle.
December 12, 2007natalie (iowa) the comeplete cycle of the moon's phrases takes about how many days? The time between two consecutive occurrences of the same phase is 29.53059 days. 1 lunar cycle = 29.53059 days
October 18, 2007Ashley (Australia) On a full moon, the earth is between the sun and the moon. How does the sunlight get to it. The Moon's orbit around Earth is tipped about 5 degrees to Earth's orbit around the Sun. This means that the Moon spends most of the time either above or below the plane of Earth's orbit, where the Earth's shadows lie. During Full Moon, our natural satellite usually passes above or below Earth's shadows and misses them entirely, and no eclipse takes place.
August 21, 2007Laura ( usa) What causes the moon to look extremely large at times? This article offers a very nice explanation of this phenomenon.
August 21, 2007Zeferino (El Paso Texas USA) I would like to know when the full moon will be comeing out tonite 7-29-2007. and if I could have time more less Thank you. The U.S. Naval Observatory's webpage Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day will return the times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, transits of the Sun and Moon, and the beginning and end of civil twilight, along with information on the Moon's phase by specifying the date and location.
July 23, 2007tariq (pakistan) what are the phases? I assume you are asking about the lunar phases. Our web page Phases of the Moon offers a clear explanation of this phenomenon.
July 19, 2007Emily (N.S.W) Why cant we see a new moon during the day? Except for the phases new and full it is possible to see all of the phases during the day. For the moon to be visible during the day, it must be up in the sky at the same time as the sun, but not so close to the sun in the sky that you can't see it. The full moon rises at sunset, is up all night, and sets at sunrise, so you can't see a full moon in the daytime. Extracted from Moon FAQ of the Madison Metropolitan School District Planetarium.
July 17, 2007malek (south africa) when you are looking at the moon,will you in south africa see the moon at the same time as a friend living in north america No, you in South Africa will have darkness way before the Americas due to the direction of our planet rotation. Because that, you will be able to see the moon first.
July 11, 2007Hayden (UK) Why does the moon appear in different parts of the sky at different times? From my window the moon is visable towards the end of the month, but during the middle of the month it is around the other side of my house. Our webpage Phases of the Moon will help you.
May 30, 2007Branden Because of the international date line, the full moon may not fall on the same date. However, everyone in the world will see the same full moon on the same evening. Astronomers use Universal Time, which is the same as Greenwich Standard Time, to determine the date on which a full moon occurs.
May 10, 2007 when is the next lunar eclipse / which countries will be able to see it /Will it go to the moon The next total lunar eclipse will happen August 28, 2007. It will be visible in part of Asia, Australia, Pacific, and the Americas.
April 19, 2007josey (florida, united states of america) when the moon is completely lit up what is it called? It is call full moon. Here you can see an explanation of the Moon's phases, and ,a href="/earth/moon/full_moon_names.html&edu=elem">here other names given to the full moon.
February 28, 2007elis (U.S.A) Why does the moon change in shape or phrase Please, visit our web page How Do the Phases Get Their Names? for a diagram and explanation of the phases of the moon.
February 28, 2007Gretchen (Arkansas/USA) What is the it called when the part of the moon that we see is curving up like a U, and then dissapears gradually? The last two nights it has been that way. The first night (2/19/27) it dissapeared sooner than the second night (2/20/07). Following third quarter the Moon becomes a waning crescent, and continues to shrink until it becomes invisible at new Moon. Please, visit our web page How Do the Phases Get Their Names? for a diagram and explanation of the phases of the moon.
January 11, 2001 TJ (California, USA) Where can I find pictures of the dark side of the moon? I know NASA has them. You're right! NASA does have them. Take a look at NASA's image archive. Simply, type in "farside, moon" and lots of pictures will come up! This is a great resource for anyone looking for space images, so check it out!
December 8, 2000 Another anonymous Windows user (USA) How does the Moon emit light? The Moon doesn't produce its own light, but looks bright because it reflects light from the Sun. Think of the Sun as a light bulb, and the Moon as a mirror, reflecting light from the light bulb. The lunar phase changes as the Moon orbits the Earth and different portions of its surface are illuminated by the Sun.
January 25, 2000 Mallory (Ohio, USA) What do the terms 'waning' and 'waxing' mean in regards to the moon phases? Waning means the Moon is getting smaller. This happens during the change from a full to a new Moon.

Waxing is just the opposite. When the Moon changes from new to full, it gets bigger!

Learn more about the phases of the Moon.

January 5, 2000 Susan ( Pennsylvania, USA) Is it normal to have a full moon 3 consecutive nights in a row? The moon is actually only considered full on one night...but since it's so close to full on the nights before and after the full moon, it tends to look full then as well.
December 24, 1999 Miriam (USA) What phase of the moon will it be on April 15, 2000? The Moon will be waxing gibbous with 90% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated. That means it's almost full, with the full moon coming on April 18.
November 29, 1999 Susan (Vermont, USA)
Melissa (Massachusetts, USA)
A link on your site about the names of the full moons is no longer active. What are all the names of the full moons, i.e. hunter's moon? Here's another link of moon names, even better than the first!
September 7, 1999 Dorothy (Connecticut) What is meant by the term 'Thunder Moon'? The full Moon in July is sometimes referred to as the Full Thunder Moon because thunderstorms are so frequent during this month. The term originated in some Native American tribes.
September 6, 1999 Hope (Ontario Canada) I read in a major newspaper that the next blue moon will be in Feburary 2000, what is the exact date that this event will occur on? There are actually no blue moons in 2000. The next blue moon will actually be on November 30th, 2001.
August 18, 1999 Richard (California) How long are the 'periods of daylight' on the Moon? The rotation period of the Moon is 27.322 days. So a typical "Moon day" would be 13.661 days! This time would change depending on the location, much like it does on Earth.
July 27, 1999 Chelsi (California) What is the difference between a solar eclipse, and a lunar eclipse? A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon comes between the Earth and the Sun, so the light from the Sun is blocked. A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth comes between the Moon and the Sun, so that when we look at the Moon we see the shadow of the Earth on the Moon.
June 8, 1999 Shahab (England) When did scientists first discover that the moon reflects light? The Greek philosopher Parmenides first stated that 'moonlight' is reflected sunlight around 500 B.C.
May 1, 1999 Geneva (West Virginia, USA) What is a full moon, and when is the next one? Here is an explanation of the full moon, and a calendar of moon phases.
March 12, 1999 Mike What is the white circle that every once and a while you see around the moon? The white circle is called a halo. It's caused by ice particles in the upper atmosphere. When the ice particles are small (less than 20 microns) they tend to fall randomly and refract the moon's light in a circle. If they were larger (around 30 microns and up) they would refract the light into a shape similar to a sundog.
January 28, 1999 Jaime I was in Texas over Thanksgiving & when I looked out at the moon, I noticed that the half moon there was horizontal, while our half moons in Pennsylvania are vertically cut in half. Why the difference? The moon will appear to be in a different position depending upon your latitude. In the Southern hemisphere, it appears upside down compared to the view from the Northern hemisphere.
December 12, 1998 Mrs. Ingvarsson's class (Massachusetts, USA) What are the names given to the full moons ? Different people gave the moons different names. These names are from American folklore.
November 30, 1998 (California, USA) When is the next blue moon? The next blue moon will be in January, 1999, with the first full moon being on the 2nd and the blue moon being the 31st.
November 2, 1998 Dave (Missouri, USA) Sunrise and sunset occur at the same time across a line of longitude during Autumnal and Vernal equinox. Are there similar 'Lunar equinoxes' where moonrise and moonset are the same north to south? The moon does go through a cycle of rising locations on the horizon similar to the sun. The dates when the moon rises at a southerly or northerly extreme on the horizon is called a lunar standstill date. The moon goes through a complete cycle about every month.
August 26, 1998 Rob (England) If it is a full moon in England on a specific day, is it a full moon elsewhere on the same day? If not, how is the date of Easter decided? On whose phases of the moon does it rely? Because of the international date line, the full moon may not fall on the same date. However, everyone in the world will see the same full moon on the same evening. Astronomers use Universal Time, which is the same as Greenwich Standard Time, to determine the date on which a full moon occurs.
May 12, 1998 Nathan (New York, U.S.A.) What is a blue moon? A blue moon occurs when there are four full moons in any given season, rather than the usual three. In 1946, a Farmer's Almanac accidentally printed that a blue moon is when there are two full moons in a single month. It took half a century before anyone caught the mistake. A blue moon occurs once every two or three years. The next one will occur in February 2000.
April 1, 1998 Andrea (Ohio, USA) What happens to the moon's color throughout the night? When the moon is rising or setting, it sometimes looks reddish or orange because the dust in the atmosphere defracts the light.
March 27, 1998 Danielle (California, USA) Why could I see the moon today in the afternoon? Is it always out? Since the moon orbits the Earth, somewhere on Earth the Moon is visible. But, since the Earth spins on its axis much faster than the Moon goes around the Earth, sometimes we see the Moon during the day.
February 10, 1998 Cornelius (Brunei Darrusalem) Why does the moon or the sun look bigger at the horizon than when overhead? Two effects cause the Sun and Moon to seem bigger near the horizon. One is an optical illusion - these objects seem larger because you have trees, buildings, etc. to compare them to.

The other effect is due to the fact that near the horizon, the light of the Sun or Moon is passing through more atmosphere than at higher altitudes. Imagine yourself standing on the surface of the Earth, with the atmosphere as a sphere around the Earth, centered at the Earth's center. The distance through the atmosphere above you *must* be shorter than the distance through the atmosphere to either side (the horizons). The refraction, or bending, of the light of the Sun and Moon by the atmosphere is therefore greater at the horizon. More refraction means the more spreading out of light and so they appear larger.

January 6, 1998 Steve (Maine, USA) What is a sundog? Also called mock suns or parhelia, sun dogs are bright spots which appear on either side of the Sun when it is near the horizon. They are caused by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere which refract light in a certain way. Sun dogs usually appear 22 degrees to either side of the Sun. Also, moon dogs can form at night the same way sun dogs form during the day.


Last modified May 16, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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