Science: The Moon
Interesting Facts about the Moon
The moon is visible to those of us on Earth because the sun's light reflects off of its surface. When we see the moon change shape, it is really a trick of light and shadow as the moon passes around the Earth. We call these predictable changes the phases of the moon.
An interesting fact about the moon is that we always see the same side of the moon. This happens because as the moon orbits the Earth, it also rotates on its own axis at approximately the same rate as it travels around its orbit.
The shadows we see on the moon are caused by craters in the surface made by objects hitting the moon at various times throughout its history. In the UK and United States, they call the shapes made by these shadows "the man in the moon." In Japan, it is known as the "rabbit in the moon."
In times gone by, people often gave names to the full moon every month. Before the widespread use of reading and calendars, it was a way for people to keep track of where they were in the year. An example of these full moon names includes the following:
If two full moons appear in a single calendar month, the second one is always called a "blue moon." This happens about once every three years or so. The only month of the year that has the possibility of not having a full moon is February, since it is usually less than 29 days. The lunar month, or the time it takes for the moon to pass through its complete cycle of phases, is about 29.5 days.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, Northern Asia), you will see the moon's phases change from right to left as the month progresses. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere (Australia, Africa, South America, Southern Asia) you will see the phases move from left to right.
The different phases have special names to let you know if you are getting closer or farther away from the full moon. If the moon is dark, that is known as a new moon. This happens when the moon is between the Earth and the sun. As the moon grows larger, this is called waxing. The full moon is when the moon is on the far side of the Earth from the sun and gets the advantage of reflecting light from its full surface. As the moon shrinks in size working towards the new moon again, this phase is called waning.
This is an original news article © The Kids Window
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