Q:

What are the different shapes of the moon called?

A:

Quick Answer

The shapes of the moon over a 29.5 day period are known as its phases. They are the result of the moon being illuminated by the sun in different positions as it orbits the Earth.

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Full Answer

There are eight distinguishable phases of the moon. In the new moon phase, the moon is directly between the sun and Earth, receiving no illumination on the side of the moon facing our planet. The moon then transitions through the waxing crescent, first quarter and waxing gibbous phases. The right half of the moon is increasingly illuminated during this period in the northern hemisphere, while the southern hemisphere sees these phases grow from the left half of the moon. The halfway point of the phases is the full moon, when Earth's satellite is fully illuminated. From this point, the illumination decreases through the waning gibbous, third quarter and waning crescent phases.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the phases of the moon?

    A:

    The phases of the moon are: new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full, waning gibbous, third quarter and waning crescent. After the waning-crescent phase the moon returns to the new-moon phase and the cycle starts again. The complete cycle takes a little over 29 days.

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  • 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:

    Why do we see the phases of the moon?

    A:

    The lunar phases are caused by the changing angles of the sun, the moon and Earth, as the moon revolves around Earth. Different amounts of the illuminated part of the moon are visible from Earth. The lunar phases include the new moon, first quarter, full moon, third quarter, crescent and gibbous.

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  • Q:

    How many phases does the moon have?

    A:

    The moon has a total of eight individual phases. Four of these phases are considered to be the moon's main phases. The remaining four phases are considered to be the moon's transitional phases.

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