The sun always illuminates only part of the lunar surface. How much depends on the position of the Priest and the Earth in relation to the Sun. The phase of the moon is the part of the moon that is currently being illuminated by the sun as it is viewed from the Earth.
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1. What are the phases of the moon?
The moon phase is the part of the moon illuminated by the sun that we can observe from the Earth at any given moment.
There are 4 main phases of the moon:
- New moon;
- First quarter;
- Second Quarter.
The individual phases depend on the angle of the Earth and the Moon in relation to the Sun, because it always illuminates only half of the Moon's surface. The phases, then, are the result of viewing this half from different angles.
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2. The structure of the moon
The moon is Earth's only natural satellite. One theory is that the Moon was formed after a huge celestial body struck the Earth 4.5 billion years ago. As a result of the collision, a fragment of the matter from which the Moon was formed broke away from the Earth.
The moon has a diameter of 3,476 km. The lunar core is rich in iron. Most of the satellite's shell consists of rocks of various origins.
The moon has a low magnetic field and has a very low albedo of 0.12. This means that it only bounces back 12 percent. sunlight falling on it, and 88 percent. absorbs. For example, Venus' albedo is 0.67 and that of Earth is 0.367.
Due to the fact that the orbit of the Moon is very close to the Earth, both celestial bodies act on each other by gravity. The effect of this interaction is the sea tides on the Earth and a small, several-centimeter undulations on the surface of the Moon.
## Lunation. A synodic and sideric month
Lunation is the mean time between each new moon. Lunation is otherwise called a synodic month. A synodic month is the time when the Moon goes through a complete cycle of 4 phases. This period is calculated between the new moon phases and is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds.
Due to the joint motion of the Earth and the Moon around the Sun, the synodic month is 2 days longer than the sidereal (sidereal) month.
The sideric month is 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes, and 11.5 seconds. This is the time the moon orbits the fixed stars.
The moon rotates on its axis in 27 days, 7 hours, 11.5 minutes and 11.5 seconds, almost the same rate it orbits the Earth. This synchronization of the rotation around its axis with the rotation around the Earth's orbit makes it possible to see only one side of the Moon from the Earth's perspective.
The other side of the moon, commonly known as "dark", was first seen by man thanks to photos from the Soviet satellite Luna 3. The satellite orbited the moon in 1959.
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3. Moon Phases: New Moon
Depending on what part of the moon is illuminated by the sun, we see its phase. A new moon is when all half of the moon is facing the earth and is not illuminated by the sun.
The Moon is invisible because the Earth, Moon and Sun are in line. Then the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, and the Sun itself is behind the Moon's "back" and does not illuminate the side visible from the Earth.
4. Moon Phases: First Quarter
The first quarter occurs when the sun illuminates the right half of the Moon's disk. Due to the fact that the Moon rotates counterclockwise around the Sun, the sun's rays will fall on it from the right side.
Several hours after the new moon, the Moon begins to be visible from its right side. After 3.5 days it looks like a narrow sickle, otherwise known as the "young moon". As the Moon and Earth move in relation to the Sun, the surface of the Moon is increasingly illuminated.
After 7 days from the new moon, half of the moon is illuminated, i.e. the entire right side. This is because the sun's rays hit the moon at right angles. The phase in which we observe the moon now is called the first quarter because the satellite has traveled 1/4 of its cycle.
When more than half of the Moon's face is illuminated, then the determination of the arrival of the Moon, i.e. increasing its visible surface, can be used.
5. Moon Phases: Full Moon
14.5 days after the new moon and 7 days after the first quarter, the moon enters a new phase which we call the full moon.
We can observe a full moon when the Moon, Earth and Sun are in one line. Then the entire Moon is illuminated, and this is because the Moon is behind the Earth, so the Sun can illuminate the entire hemisphere of the Moon facing the Earth.
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6. Moon Phases: Second Quarter
Several hours after the full moon, a narrow crescent-shaped darkening appears on the right side of the moon. 7.5 days after the full moon, the entire right half of the moon is darkened. This phase is called the second quarter.
Over the next days, the amount of sunlight illuminating the Moon will systematically decrease. Colloquially, this process can be called the "waning" Moon.
During the second quarter, the bright side of the moon is less and less illuminated. When the Moon begins to look like a narrow crescent, it is commonly referred to as the "old Moon".
After 7 days from the second quarter, 14.5 days from the full moon, and 29.5 days from the new moon, the moon is completely darkened. This means that the Moon has once again turned its "back" to the Sun and its disc, as we see it, is completely unlit. Then the cycle closes and a new one begins.