Understanding Moon Phases

moon phases

How come the shape of the moon seems to change every night? Why can't I see the moon during the day?

Both questions have the same answer. The moon is a world in space, just the way the Earth is. The moon is always partially lit up by the sun, like Earth; there are two sides of the moon's globe - day side and night side. From earth's view point, the moon rotates around the earth enabling us to see different parts of the day and night sides. These are the phases when the moon changes and the moon is in the daytime sky nearly half the time. The only thing is that we don't notice it because it's very close. How then can we comprehend the different phases of the moon? Listed below are ways to achieve this:

  • 1. As soon as you sight the moon, reflect on the sun's whereabouts
  • 2. The moon rises in the east and sets in the west, daily
  • 3. It takes the moon about one month to orbit the Earth
  • 4. The moon moves eastward

1. As soon as you sight the moon, reflect on the sun's whereabouts.

The sun illuminates and creates the moon's day side. The Moon's phases are dependent on the moon's position with respect to the sun in space. For instance, can you see the moon phase being shown in the above illustration? It's a full moon. The moon, Earth and sun are aligned with Earth in the middle. The moon's fully lit half side, which is its day side, looks toward the night side of the Earth's. This is what's always obtainable on any full moon night.

You may choose to go outside and see for yourself. It doesn't really matter what moon phase you see in your sky, always think about the sun's whereabout. This will help you begin to understand the reason the moon you see is in that particular phase.

2. The moon rises in the east and sets in the west, daily.

There is just no other way! All celestial objects rise and set due to the daily constant spinning of the Earth underneath the sky.

Just keep in mind that any thin crescent moon you see in the west after sunset is not a rising moon; rather, it's a setting moon.

At the same time, though...