The moon appears to wax and wane through different phases due to how much of its illuminated surface is visible from Earth. At any given time, half the moon is illuminated by the sun's light. Depending on where the moon is in relation to the Earth, the amount of illuminated surface changes. The ratio of illuminated surface to shadowed surface creates the phases.Know More
When the moon is between the Earth and the sun, its illuminated side faces away from the planet. This is a new moon, when the visible surface is completely dark. As the moon travels through its orbit, the illuminated surface slowly becomes visible, waxing into first a crescent moon and then a half moon. After the half-moon comes a gibbous moon, in which three-quarters of the illuminated surface is visible. Finally, when the moon is directly opposite the sun, it becomes a full moon with its illuminated face entirely visible.
The moon's phase also determines when it becomes visible in the sky. A new moon is in the sky at the same time as the sun, and therefore is not visible with the naked eye. As the moon waxes, it begins to rise later in the day, until the full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. The waning moon continues this pattern, rising later and later, until the new moon rises with the sun once again.Learn more about Our Moon
The moon appears to change size depending on its location in the sky because of the phenomenon called the moon illusion. The apparent change in size occurs because of how the viewer's brain interprets the visual data it receives.Full Answer >
The moon appears to change colors sometimes due to the scattering of light through the atmosphere. Moonlight has to pass through more atmosphere when it is on the horizon than when it is higher in the sky. By the time the moonlight is visible, all of the fragments of light on the blue end of the color spectrum have been scattered away by the air molecules, leaving only red, yellow and orange pieces of light.Full Answer >
A new moon is not visible. During a new moon, the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. The part of the moon that is lit is facing the sun and not the Earth.Full Answer >
Most people know that the moon's gravitational influence has an effect on the tides on Earth, but some scientists also believe that the presence of the moon played an important role in making Earth habitable to begin with. The interplay between the Earth and the moon mirrors events that occurred throughout the early solar system, as a Mars-sized object may have hit the Earth, sending some of the mantle into orbit that soon cooled into the moon. Over time, the relationship between the Earth and the moon may well have assisted the advent of life.Full Answer >