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.

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.


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