What Are The Phases of the Moon? | Summary and Q&A

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October 3, 2013
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Fraser Cain
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What Are The Phases of the Moon?

TL;DR

The Moon goes through phases due to its orbit around the Earth, resulting in different levels of illumination. This alignment with the Sun leads to lunar and solar eclipses. Venus also experiences phases similar to the Moon.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What causes the Moon to go through different phases?

The Moon goes through different phases due to its orbit around the Earth. As it moves in relation to the Sun, different portions of the Moon become illuminated, resulting in the different phases we observe.

Q: How long does it take for the Moon to complete its phase cycle?

The Moon completes its cycle of phases, from New Moon to Full Moon and back to New Moon, in approximately 28 days. This period is known as a lunar month.

Q: Why do we not have lunar and solar eclipses every month?

Lunar and solar eclipses do not occur every month because the Moon's orbit is inclined relative to the Sun. This means that most months, the Moon is either above or below the Sun in the sky, preventing a perfect alignment for an eclipse.

Q: Does Venus also have phases like the Moon?

Yes, Venus also experiences phases similar to the Moon. When Venus is on the other side of the Sun from Earth, we see it as a nearly complete disk. As it approaches our side of the Sun, it appears as a thin crescent, just like the Moon.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The Moon's phases are caused by its orbit around the Earth, resulting in varying levels of illumination seen from Earth.

  • The alignment of the Sun, Earth, and Moon leads to astronomical events such as lunar eclipses when the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow and solar eclipses when the Moon casts its shadow on Earth.

  • Venus also experiences phases resembling those of the Moon due to its position relative to the Sun.

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