Q:

Does the moon reflect light from the sun?

A:

Quick Answer

The moon does reflect light from the sun, which is why it is visible in the night sky. The actual surface of the moon is mostly a dark grey color, reported by astronauts who have walked on it, but it appears a bright yellow or white in the sky due to the reflected light.

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Full Answer

The moon reflects a different amount of light depending on where it is in Earth's orbit. When the moon is directly between the sun and Earth, humans are unable to see it as no light is directed towards the planet's surface. As it moves around Earth, more and more of the light is reflected until humans see a full moon.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    When does the moon disappear?

    A:

    The moon is not visible to observers on Earth during its new moon phase, when the moon is located on the same side of Earth as the sun. During this phase, the portion of the moon that is illuminated by the sun faces entirely away from the Earth.

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  • Q:

    How bright is the moon compared to the sun?

    A:

    Just as day is brighter than night, the sun is much brighter than the moon — 400,000 times brighter, to be exact. That's compared to even the fullest, brightest full moon. From an astronomical standpoint, this is no surprise. The moon doesn't generate its own light, and the burning sun provides the vast majority of all the natural light on earth.

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  • 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:

    How can I tell what phase the moon is in?

    A:

    The way to identify which of the phases the moon is in is based on which section of the moon's face is lit by the sun. The moon has eight phases, which happen in the same cycle over the course of a 29-day period.

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