Have you ever looked up at the sky and noticed how the moon changes shape each night? Ever wondered why… And how?

Well, here’s the answer – it doesn’t ‘change shape’ at all! Let’s take a look at the phases of the moon…

 

Phases of the moon

The moon doesn’t emit (give off) light itself, the ‘moonlight’ we see is actually the sun’s light reflected off the lunar surface.

Facts about the moon - image 2

So, as the moon orbits the Earth, the sun lights up different parts of it, making it seem as if the moon is changing shape. In actual fact, it’s just our view of it that’s altering…

The Phases of the Moon - image 2Zoom in for a closer look! 

 

Changing faces

The moon is Earth’s only natural satellite (a celestial body that orbits a planet). It takes the moon 27.3 days to make a complete orbit around the Earth, but because the Earth is moving around the sun at the same time, it takes the moon 29.5 days to go through its eight different ‘phases’ – a lunar month.

The Phases of the MoonZoom in for a closer look! 

Did you know we have a FREE downloadable Phases of the Moon primary resource? Great for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike!

 

When the moon appears to be getting bigger, it’s ‘waxing’ and when it looks like it’s getting smaller, it’s ‘waning’. Once the face of the moon is fully turned towards the sun, it’s a Full Moon, and we see it all. But, as the moon moves around the Earth, the face pointing towards us gradually becomes hidden from the sun until we can hardly see it at all – this is a New Moon. Cosmic!

 

Did you enjoy our phases of the moon feature? Be sure to check out our ten top facts about the moon, too!

 

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