Q:

How can I tell what phase the moon is in?

A:

Quick Answer

The way to identify which of the phases the moon is in is based on which section of the moon's face is lit by the sun. The moon has eight phases, which happen in the same cycle over the course of a 29-day period.

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How can I tell what phase the moon is in?
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Full Answer

The phases of the moon are broken into four quarters. The first quarter is the new moon, which is followed by the first quarter, full moon and last quarter. During the new moon phase, the moon isn't visible because it is too close to the sun. This phase is the start of the lunar cycle. The next phase is known as the waxing crescent and it exposes between 1 and 49 percent of the moon. The phase that comes after is called the first quarter and it is when exactly half of the moon is visible. After this phase the waxing gibbous begins, which is when 51 to 99 percent of the moon is lit. The entire illumination of the moon's disc is known as the full moon. After these phases, the moon starts to move back into the new moon phase. During the waning gibbous, third quarter and waning crescent, the moon progressively gets lit less and less until it reaches the new moon phase again.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why does the moon go through phases?

    A:

    The phases of the moon are caused by the relative positions of the sun, Earth and moon. The moon travels around the Earth, taking just over 29 days to complete a single orbit. The sun illuminates the moon from various angles as it changes position relative to the Earth.

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  • Q:

    What causes moon phases?

    A:

    Moon phases are caused by the motions of the Earth and moon as they relate to the sun. Phases occur as the Earth-facing side of the moon changes over the course of 29.5 days when the moon revolves around the planet. When the angle of sunlight reflecting off the moon changes, humans observe different lighting levels from the moon.

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  • Q:

    What is the temperature range of the moon?

    A:

    The temperature range of the moon is between minus 413 degrees Fahrenheit and 253 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on whether or not the section being measured is facing the sun. Since the moon does not possess a significant amount of atmosphere, its surface cannot trap heat or provide insulation.

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  • Q:

    Why do we have moon phases?

    A:

    Moon phases occur because the angle of the Earth, moon and sun changes as the moon orbits the Earth. One-half of the moon is always illuminated by the sun. As a person's angle of sight changes, different portions of sunlight and shadow are observed on the moon's surface.

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