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.
The eight phases of the moon are new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter and waning crescent. Many people believe that the phases of the moon are the direct cause of Earth's shadow when it falls on the moon. This is actually not the case. The phases of the moon are the direct cause of the angle of the sun. The moon's current position is always between Earth and the sun. The side of the moon that faces Earth receives no direct sunlight. The only sunlight it receives is the dim sunlight that the Earth reflects. As the moon moves around the Earth, more of the moon's surface receives direct sunlight. This sunlight gradually illuminates the moon in stages. The shadow of the Earth in fact does not directly affect the moon's light, illumination or its phases. The shadow of the Earth is only seen on the moon twice every year, and this is referred to as a lunar eclipse.Learn More
The moon has a diameter of 3474.8 kilometers. The moon is 27 percent the size of Earth but has only 1.2 percent of the Earth's mass.Full Answer >
According to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera website, the moon has a crust that is composed of rocks such as anorthosite and basalt. Anorthosite contains the mineral plagioclase feldspar which gives the rock its light color. The basalt on the moon is dark, because it is mixed with iron-bearing minerals. Basalt contains pyroxene, olivine, volcanic glass and ilmenite.Full Answer >
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.Full Answer >
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.Full Answer >