Moon, Moon Phases & Eclipses The Moon

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Moon, Moon Phases & Eclipses

The Moon

  • The Moon is made of cheese!                                
  • There is a Man in the Moon.   
  • The Moon and the Sun chase each other across the sky. 
  • The Moon disappears during certain days of the month.
  • There are men or other creatures living on the Moon. 
  • The Moon was put in the sky by a person or animal. 
  • The Moon is a living creature or a god. 
  • The Moon controls how we act and how we feel.              
  • During a full moon, some people turn into werewolves. 
  • The Moon is pulled across the sky by a person, animal, or force.
  • Myths
  • Greek goddess Artemis, roman goddess Diana
  • Myths
  • Chinese mythology: Chang’e
  • Moon festival
  • Calendar
  • The current standard calendar is solar calendar (Gregorian calendar) – counting days
  • The moon phases have a period of 29.5 days, a good measure of time
  • Lunar calendars – counting days and months
  • E.g. Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar
  • 29.5 * 12 = 354, 11 days less than 365
  • Lunisolar calendar – Chinese calendar, Hebrew calendar
    • Adding leap months, with a circle of 19 years

Moon – our closest natural celestial body neighbor

  • The earth’s only natural satellite
  • Orbit around the earth is an elliptical
  • Average distance from the earth to the moon is 384,403 kilometers (238,857 miles) – 30 times the diameter of the earth
  • Diameter of 3,474 km, ¼ of the earth
  • Gravity 1/6 of the earth

Moon’s orbit

  • The orbit period around the earth – 27.3 days
  • The spin period is exactly the same!
  • We always see the same side of the moon! ( precisely speaking 59% of the surface during the whole period of the moon revolution. Reason: libration). We see only 50% of the moon’s surface at one time. Even so, over time, lunar libration lets careful observers peek at a tiny portion of the moon’s far side, due to the wobble of the moons axis during its rotation.
  • The period of Lunar Phase – 29.5 days
  • Because of the earth’s revolution in the space
  • The orbit plane of the moon is tilted by ~5 degree with respect to the earth’s orbit around the sun, unlike other planets

Moon’s orbit

  • The orbit plane of the moon is tilted by ~5 degree with respect to the earth’s orbit around the sun, unlike other planets
  • Near Side
  • Far Side

Moon’s surface

  • Maria (sigular mare, ‘sea’ in Latin)
    • Dark areas and were thought to be seas
    • Cover 31% of the near side, but only 2% of the far side
    • No water but vast pools of solidified lava that flowed into basins formed by comets/metors colliding
    • Nomenclature
      • Latin terms describing the weather and abstract concepts
    • Smaller dark regions
      • Lacus (Lake)
      • Palus (marsh)
      • Sinus" (bay)
  • Maria
  • Highland
  • Crater
  • Moon’s surface
  • Highland
    • Lighter color regions, or called Terrae
    • Many are impact basins’ outer rims
    • In contrast to earth, no major lunar mountains were formed as a result of tectonic events
    • Mountains and mountain ranges
  • Different brightness of the highlands and maria is because they are composed of different rock types
  • Maria
  • Highland
  • Crater


  • Formed when asteroids/comets hit the lunar surface
  • Half a million craters with diameters larger than 1km
  • Crater counting – to estimate the age of the lunar surface
  • The largest crater is South Pole-Aitken basin, with 2,240 kms in diameter and 13 kms in depth
  • Nomenclature:
  • Daedalus, 93 km in diameter
  • Proposed as a site for a large radio telescope

Known maria, highlads and craters

The formation of the moon

  • Born from the earth - broke off from the earth by centrifugal forces, and left the pacific ocean behind
  • Captured by the earth’s gravity
  • Co-formation with the earth
  • Giant impact hypothesis
    • An impact of a Mars-sized body collide w/ the proto-Earth and ejected materials to orbit around the earth – the Moon

Explorations of the moon

  • Ancient people observed the moon by naked eyes, and wrote poems and essays, and told myths
  • Galileo first observed the moon using an telescope
  • The only celestial body the human being has orbited and landed
    • First impact: Luna 2 of Soviet Union in 1959
    • First far side picture: Luna 3 in 1959
    • First soft landing: Luna 9 in 1966
    • First men’s step on the moon: Apollo 11 in 1969

Moon Phases

  • Why does the moon change phases?
  • Lunar phases are the result of our eyes seeing the illuminated half of the Moon from different viewing geometries
  • Due to the Moon’s orbital positions

The Moon’s Orbit around the earth

Moon Phases

Complete this

  • Moon Phase
  • Moon Rise Time
  • New Moon
  • Sunrise/6am
  • Waxing Crescent
  • 9am
  • First Quarter
  • 12pm
  • Waxing Gibbous
  • 3pm
  • Full Moon
  • 6pm
  • Waning Gibbous
  • 9pm
  • Third Quarter
  • 12am
  • Waning Crescent
  • 3am
  • Say, Sun rises at 6am and sets at 6pm
  • When new moon occurs, what is the phase of the earth
  • if you stand on the moon?
  • Full earth!
  • The earth always has an opposite phase to the moon.


  • Have you seen eclipses?
  • What are eclipses in nature?
    • One celestial object casts its shadow on the other one

Solar Eclipses

  • Total solar eclipse in 1999
  • A – total eclipse
  • B – annular eclipse
  • C – partial eclipse
  • Lunar Eclipses
  • Moon – the shadow of the earth on the moon
  • Lunar Eclipse
  • What’s the moon phase when a solar eclipse occurs?
  • What’s the moon phase when a lunar eclipse occurs?
  • New Moon
  • Full Moon
  • Why aren’t there solar eclipses and lunar eclipses on EVERY
  • new moon and full moon?
  • Two conditions must be satisfied for an eclipse to occur

Eclipses Cycle

  • Every year there are at least two lunar eclipses
  • Lunar eclipses and solar eclipses always come in pairs
  • Lunar eclipses can be seen everywhere on the earth, but the solar eclipses may only be seen on part of the earth

Discussion Board

  • Research and Describe perigee and apogee.
  • Blue Moon
  • When will the next solar and lunar full eclipses occur that can be seen from N.C.
  • Solar eclipses

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