Archive | September, 2017

About The Moon

21 Sep

Tracking The Phases of the Moon

When we see the Full Moon, we are witnessing the completion of a 27.3 day cycle. During this cycle, the Moon goes though several different Moon phases.

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The Full Moon Phase 

During a Full Moon phase the Earth is aligned between the Moon and the Sun. So like a set of scales where Earth is in the middle, as the Sun descends in the west, the Moon ascends in the east.

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The New Moon Phase

During a New Moon phase, the Moon is positioned between the Earth and the Sun. This means that because Earth is no longer in the middle, the play of light between the Moon and the Sun, now prevents us from seeing the Moon. So the New Moon is invisible to us.

We are only able to see the Moon because of the sunlight illuminating each of the different phases along the 27 day lunar cycle.

The Gravitational Pull of the Earth

The Earth’s gravitational pull on the Moon, causes the sides to bulge and this in turn locks it into two revolving motions:

1)a rotational spin on its own axis which takes 27 days.

2)a revolving orbit around the earth which takes approximately 27.3 days.

You could say that the Moon is locked into position in a perpetual dance with the Earth and the two orbs in turn orbit the Sun over a 365.25 day cycle.

What is Synchronous Rotation?

As we have said, the Moon rotates on its own axis over a 27 day cycle. It also orbits the earth over a 27 day cycle: for this reason, the Moon appears not to be spinning, this phenomenon is called Synchronous Rotation.

Which Side Do We See?

The Moon spins on its axis such that the illuminated side is seen by all places on earth although at different angles.

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Like Earth, the Moon has a North and a South Pole. We only ever get to see the South Pole because we are looking up at the Moon whilst it is rotating on its axis. It does not flip over to give us a view of the North Pole. We therefore only ever see  a projection of the ‘near side’ and the ‘far side’ is always invisible to us.

Taken from the ‘Knowledge of self and the universe’ series. Sponsored by Amunet’s Fables

Amunet Hall

Author of Amunet’s Fables 

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