How much do you know about our moon?

How much do you know about our moon?

Humans have long been fascinated by that big round orb in the sky. Bright and beautiful, the moon makes a steady march to the stage to make a glorious appearance — and then promptly hides again. Its mysterious effects on Earth’s oceans and inhabitants keep us wondering.

New Moon- Barely visible in the night sky, the moon’s first phase marks the beginning of the Chinese month. The first sight of the moon marks the beginning of the Muslim, Hebrew, Buddhist and Hindu months. A new moon is only completely invisible during an eclipse because the sun, moon and Earth must align in a very specific way to block out Earth’s satellite completely.

Crescent moon- A symbol in many cultures, the crescent moon can mark the beginning or the end of the lunar cycle. It’s beautiful to behold, but have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s sideways, and sometimes it looks like a smile? The moon’s path in the Northern Hemisphere changes in summer and winter. The “wet moon,” which occurs during the winter, is known as the Cheshire moon for the smile of Lewis Carroll’s ornery cat character in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Pictured here is a crescent moon known as a “dry moon,” following its summer path, which is also the reason why it looks so large.

Quarter moon- In the next step of the lunar cycle, the moon appears only halfway illuminated. Though it’s commonly called a half moon because of its shape, the correct term “quarter moon” refers to its cycle around the Earth. Towards the beginning of the cycle, the phase is called “first quarter;” towards the end, it’s called “third” or “last” quarter.

Gibbous moon- Yes, there’s a name for that transitional phase when most of us think the moon is full but it’s not quite there yet. Well, now you can be “that person” and point out that unless the moon is 100 percent lit, it’s in the gibbous phase. When the illuminated part of the moon is growing larger, approaching the full moon, the phase is known as “waxing gibbous” (like the moon pictured here). When the illuminated part is shrinking, approaching the new moon once again, this phase is known as “waning gibbous.”

Full moon- In its fully-illuminated glory, the full moon is the central phase of the 29.5-day lunar cycle, so you’ll see it about 14 days after the new moon phase. Whether or not it causes odd behavior, strange dreams or the appearance of werewolves is up for debate.

Lunar eclipse- A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth blocks the sun’s light from illuminating the moon in a straight-line, “syzygy” configuration. (This occurs during a full moon but is much less common, by the way.) When the moon passes through the Earth’s umbra, it’s a total lunar eclipse. Sometimes, the moon passes through the penumbra (the part of the Earth’s shadow that isn’t totally dark) for a penumbral eclipse, but total penumbral eclipses are rare.

Super moon- You’ve probably heard the hype about the super moon. A super moon occurs relatively often, about once every 14 full moons, when the moon is closest to the Earth. Though many claim that the moon is not really all that much bigger or brighter than usual when it’s at perigee (its closest point), it’s still a sight to behold. Mark your calendars for Aug. 10, 2014, for the next super moon … but try to stay out of the ocean!

Blue moon- Even rarer than the super moon, the blue moon can be generalized as a second full moon in a calendar month (though some argue that this is an incorrect use of the term). Most seasons have just three full moons, but sometimes there are four — and the technically-correct blue moon is the third of four full moons in that season. The most recent blue moon was on Aug. 21, and the next one will occur in 2015.

Harvest moon- The full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox is known as the “harvest moon.” This year’s harvest moon will appear on Sept. 19. This moon’s name signifies the corn harvesting season, a time when farmers can stay out in the fields later than usual.

Blood moon- The blood moon, or hunter’s moon, is the name of October’s full moon. Though it may seem like a Halloween ploy, the names come from Native Americans’ hunting practices late in the harvesting season. The day of the hunter’s moon continues to have significance to this day — according to the Farmer’s Almanac, it has been a day of feasts in Western Europe as well as in Native American tribes.

This information was sourced from (Mother Nature Network)


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