Q:

How much of the moon is always lit by the sun?

A:

Quick Answer

Half of the moon is always lit by the sun, unless the sun is eclipsed by the Earth. The portion of the illuminated moon viewed from Earth depends on the moon's orbit. As the moon orbits, different portions of shadow and illumination are seen from Earth, creating the moon's phases.

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How much of the moon is always lit by the sun?
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Full Answer

The moon goes through several phases during its orbit, either increasing or decreasing visibility of the portion of it that is illuminated. The entire half of the moon in shadows is visible during the new moon, with the entire half of the illuminated side visible during the full moon. During the first quarter and last quarter moons, one half of both the illuminated and shadowed side is visible. When a crescent moon is in the night sky, less than one half of the illuminated portion can be seen. If there is a gibbous moon, more than one half of the illuminated portion is visible.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Where does "gibbous moon" mean?

    A:

    The term "gibbous moon" refers to the phase of the moon's cycle when more than half but less than all of the moon is illuminated by the sun, making it visible from Earth. A gibbous moon can be either waxing or waning, explains Universe Today.

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  • Q:

    Where does the moon get its light from?

    A:

    The moon gets its light from the sun, the same source as Earth and other planets. The location of the moon along its orbit affects the amount of light it receives from the sun, leading to the different phases of the moon.

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  • Q:

    How many days does a full moon last?

    A:

    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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    Why do we see the phases of the moon?

    A:

    The lunar phases are caused by the changing angles of the sun, the moon and Earth, as the moon revolves around Earth. Different amounts of the illuminated part of the moon are visible from Earth. The lunar phases include the new moon, first quarter, full moon, third quarter, crescent and gibbous.

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