Phases of the Moon

Why does the moon's appearance change?

As Bill Nye said, the moon follows a pattern because it is revolving around the Earth at a constant rate. We see the pattern because of our position on Earth relative to the sun and the moon. The sun's light reflects off the moon, and depending on it's position, we see that reflection. Sometimes we see the whole side of the moon that is reflecting light, sometimes we only see part, and sometimes we see none. Try the challenge link below to see if you can correctly follow the moon's pattern.

What are the phases of the moon called?

As the moon goes through it's Lunar Cycle, we see phases of that cycle. Each phase has a name.

Waxing Crescent Moon is the first phase of the moon after a new moon. The light from the sun reflects off of the right side of the moon in a crescent shape.

Next comes the Waxing First Quarter moon, where 1 quarter of the visible part of the moon reflects the sun's light.

A Waxing Gibbous moon shows up next, where all but a crescent shape of dark on the left reflects light.

A Full Moon is halfway through the cycle of the phases of the moon, and we see the full side of the moon that reflects light from the sun.

At this point, the phases reverse and the right side of the moon is the dark side. The Waning Gibbous moon has a crescent shape that is dark, but the rest of the moon we see is reflecting light.

Next comes the Waning Third Quarter, where the left quarter of the moon is reflecting the sun's light.

The last phase of the moon before the next New Moon is the Waning Crescent Moon. The left side has a crescent shape that reflects light from the sun.

The New Moon is the phase of the moon that starts the cycles of the moon over. We see the dark side of the moon.

What have I learned?

Follow the link below to see if you can remember the Phases of the Moon. After you have put in your answers on the website, click the "Check Me" button. If you got more than one wrong, erase your answers and try it again!

Credits:

Created with images by Stain_Marylight - "moon night full moon"

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