Q:

How many days does a full moon last?

A:

Quick Answer

According to NASA, a full moon technically only lasts for the moment when the Earth is directly between the sun and the moon. However, full moons appear to last for approximately three days.

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Full Answer

Over the course of approximately 28 days, the moon goes through different phases based on the relative positions of the Earth, the moon and the sun. A true full moon only occurs during the instant when the moon appears completely illuminated to observers on Earth. However, when most people talk about the full moon, they are referring to the several-day period when the moon appears to be at least 95 percent full.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why does the moon appear bright?

    A:

    The moon appears bright because the side visible on Earth reflects the light from the sun. As the moon and the Earth move around their respective orbits, different portions of the moon are visible to people on Earth, depending on the angle at which the light hits the moon and reflects back to Earth. The moon reflects back about 12 percent of the light from the sun that hits it.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference between a new moon vs. a full moon?

    A:

    The phases of the moon are determined by the angle at which sunlight approaches the moon relative to the position of the Earth. When the sun is behind the Earth, relative to the moon, full sunlight falls on the hemisphere of the moon that faces Earth. When the sun is behind the moon, relative to Earth, sunlight falls on the opposite lunar hemisphere.

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  • Q:

    Why is there a full moon only once a month?

    A:

    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.

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  • Q:

    What causes the phases of the moon?

    A:

    The phases of the moon are caused by the light from the sun and the position of the moon with regard to the Earth and sun. Depending on these positions, the moon appears to be in any one of eight major phases from Earth. These phases are full, waning gibbous, third quarter, waning crescent, new, waxing crescent, first quarter and waxing gibbous. Each phase lasts approximately seven days.

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