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The moon appears to glow because of the sun's reflection on the Moon’s surface. In the 27.3 days it takes the moon to orbit around the earth, the amount of sunlight we see on the moon changes, creating different phases from our perspective on earth. From the northern hemisphere, a waxing moon is growing bigger and a waning moon is growing smaller. These phases are reversed from the perspective of the southern hemisphere. Many people use the moon’s monthly cycle to measure time and developed lunar calendars to correspond to these phases.

Moon 1.jpg
Moon 2.jpg

The moon rotates around its own axis in the same amount of time it takes to orbit the earth. Because these rotations are synchronous, we only see one side of the moon and it does not look like the moon is spinning.

The “far side” of the moon is the side we do not see and though it is sometimes called the “dark side” of the moon,  this side is actually completely lit up when we have a new moon!

Usually, the moon does not exactly line up with the sun and the earth because the moon's orbit is tilted about 5 degrees off the earth’s orbit from the sun. When the moon does line up between the sun and the earth though, it creates a solar eclipse. When the earth lines up between the moon and sun, it creates a lunar eclipse. 

Solar Eclipse.jpg
Lunar eclipse.jpg









For a demonstration: