There is only one full moon each month because the moon only opposes the sun once per month in its orbit. The phases of the moon are caused by how much of its visible surface is illuminated by the sun's light, and a full moon only occurs when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun.Know More
As the moon travels around the Earth, its phase changes. When the moon is on the same side of the planet as the sun, its illuminated surface is facing away from Earth, causing the visible portion of the moon to appear completely dark. As it orbits, more of its illuminated side becomes visible, transitioning from the dark "new moon" to a "crescent," "half" and "gibbous" moon. Only when the moon is in direct opposition to the sun is the entire surface illuminated, producing a full moon. Since this only happens once per orbit, there is only one full moon per month.
Full moons are also the only time lunar eclipses occur. The moon must be in a particular arrangement with the Earth for the Earth's umbral shadow to darken the moon's surface, and even then refracted light through the atmosphere gives it a dark reddish glow instead of obscuring it completely.Learn More
The Earth's moon takes 27 Earth days to completely orbit the Earth. A day on the moon is also equal to a little over 27 days on Earth.Full Answer >
The moon completes one full rotation about its axis in the same time it takes Earth to complete a full revolution, resulting in one side always turning to face the parent planet in sync with its orbit. This phenomenon is known as tidal locking.Full Answer >
The moon is tidally locked with Earth, which has the effect of synchronizing its rotation period with the period of its orbit. Completing one "day" per orbit of the Earth, the moon has shown the same face to the Earth for billions of years.Full Answer >
Sunlight reflects off the moon's surface, and it is seen at different angles from the Earth as the moon moves in orbit around the planet. These changes are known as lunar phases, which occur in a cycle that repeats every 29.5 days.Full Answer >