Phases of the Moon for Kids
Why moon keeps changing its shape?
If you look up in the sky every night, you would realize that the moon has a different shape on different nights. Have you ever wondered about it? If you want to know the reason, watch the above video and keep reading.
In real sense, moon shape remains the same but we see it differently from planet earth. Many a times we are able to see the full moon whereas on other days we can see part of it.
Few facts to understand the shapes of the moon:
a) The moon doesn’t emit any light by itself, the ‘moonlight’ you see is actually the light of the Sun. This light is reflected by the surface of the moon.
b) Moon keeps orbiting around the earth, it takes 27.3 days to complete one orbit around the earth.
c) At the same time, the earth is also moving around the sun.
Shape of the moon depends upon its position around the earth and earth’s position around the sun.
Once the face of the moon is fully turned towards the Sun, we can see all of it and it’s called a Full Moon. But as the moon moves around the earth, the face pointing towards the earth gradually becomes hidden from the Sun and no sunlight reaches the moon. And in absence of no sunlight being reflected by the moon, we can’t see it at all – this is known as a New Moon.
Eight Phases of the moon:
We can see eight different phases of the moon. These phases are named on the basis of how much part of the moon we can see on different days. Each phase repeats itself every 29.5 days.
1. New moon: When the Moon cannot be seen. New moon happens when the moon is directly between the earth and sun.
2. Waxing crescent moon is when the Moon looks like crescent and the crescent increases in size from one day to the next. Increase in the size is called waxing.
3. Half-moon: This is also called a 1st quarter moon. It is when half of the lit portion of the moon is visible.
4. Waxing gibbous moon: It occurs when more than half of the lit portion of the moon can be seen and the shape waxes in size from one day to the next.
5. Full moon: It is when we can see all the lit part of the moon. This occurs when the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun.
6. Waning gibbous moon: It occurs when more than half of the lit portion of the Moon is visible from the earth. And it keeps decreasing in size from one day to the next. The decrease in size is also known as waning.
7. Last quarter moon: It is again a half moon but unlike 1st quarter moon, in this case half of the moon is visible after decrease in size (waning).
8. Waning crescent moon: It is when the Moon looks like the crescent and the crescent decreases wanes in size from one day to the next.
Points to remember:
a) Increase in moon size is known as waxing whereas decrease in moon size is known as waning. It waxes from new moon to full moon and then starts waning and again reaches in new moon phase from there.
b) A lunar eclipse can only happen at full moon i.e. when the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun.
c) A solar eclipse can only happen at new moon when the moon is directly between the earth and sun.
To understand more and to remember everything about the different phases of the moon, students are advised to watch the above video two -three times and should make few notes. This video can also be used to teach in the classrooms as well as for home schooling.