Types of Moon: Explained

The Moon is an important celestial body that affects our daily lives in various ways. It helps us create calendars, keeps track of time and tide, and even provides us with fascinating phenomena such as eclipses. But did you know that there are eight different types of Moon within a lunar cycle?

While most of us are familiar with popular names like Blue Moon, Full Moon, and Blood Moon, it’s essential to understand all the different types of the Moon that we commonly use.

What are Moon Phases?

Before we explore the different types of Moon, let’s understand Moon phases. In the western world, we divide the Moon cycle into eight phases, known as a Lunar Month. These eight phases outline the journey of the Moon transitioning from a New Moon to a Full Moon and back to a New Moon for the cycle to repeat itself.

So, why not check the sky tonight and see what stage of the cycle we are in?

The 8 Different Types of Moon

New Moon

The New Moon is the beginning of the cycle. It’s the time when the Moon is directly in line with Earth and the Sun, and the side of the Moon we see is cast with a shadow. This means no direct sunlight can reach its surface, and thus, it remains invisible to us. This marks the first day of the cycle.

Waxing Crescent

The Waxing Crescent phase is when the Moon begins to move into a position where the sun starts to illuminate part of the Moon’s surface. We start seeing a small crescent appearing, and this phase ends when the Moon is around 49% illuminated.

First Quarter

Following the Waxing Crescent comes the First Quarter. We can see about 50% of the Moon illuminated, so it looks like a semi-circle. This also marks the time when the Moon has moved a quarter in orbit around the Earth.

Waxing Gibbous

The Waxing Gibbous Moon is the phase when the Moon is at 51%-99% illumination, just after the First Quarter Moon. This phase starts from appearing to be half-illuminated to almost being fully illuminated.

Full Moon

The Full Moon is when the Moon has reached the opposite side of the Earth in orbit to the Sun. This means that the Moon’s surface is in direct sunlight and can be illuminated in full for us to admire in the night sky. The Full Moon lasts for the 14th-15th day of the cycle and then moves into the next phase.

These are the most popular types of Moon that we experience during a lunar cycle. By understanding the different types of Moon, we can appreciate the Moon’s beauty and significance in our lives even more.

Waning Gibbous.

The Waning Gibbous Moon is the opposite of the Waxing Gibbous Moon. During this phase, the Moon is transitioning from Full Moon to a quarter visible, resulting in a decrease from 99% to 51% illumination.

Third Quarter.

In the Third Quarter Moon phase, the other half of the Moon is illuminated until it reaches 50%, indicating that the moon cycle is ending and a New Moon is approaching.

Waning Crescent.

The final stage of the Lunar Month is the Waning Crescent, where the Moon’s surface decreases from 49% to 1% illumination, eventually becoming a small crescent before disappearing entirely.

What about a Dark Moon?

The last sliver of light that illuminates the Moon’s surface is known as the Dark Moon. It occurs on day 29.5, the final day of the cycle before the New Moon appears.

Although it is a name for the cycle’s end, it is not commonly used in the eight-phase cycle or by astrologers.

Why does the Moon change color?

Four types of Moon can be seen in the sky, but they are rarer than the monthly moon phases and only visible from certain parts of the world.

Blood Moon.

A Blood Moon occurs during a Lunar Eclipse when the Earth is between the Sun and Moon, and the Moon can only receive light refracted from Earth. This causes the Moon to appear red, like a sunrise or sunset.

Blue Moon.

The Blue Moon appears blue due to dust affecting the lighting. However, it can also refer to two Full Moons in a month or four Full Moons in a season when there are usually three.

Is it a Black Moon or Invisible Moon?

There is no clear definition for a Black Moon.

The term “Black Moon” is a newer term that has been created and popularized by followers of the Wiccan Religion and social media. Although there are many definitions for what type of moon it represents, the most common is that of the New Moon. This is because the Moon is not lit up, and there is just darkness, making it technically invisible. Therefore, the term Black Moon can describe the darkness that we see, which can also be called an Invisible Moon. The two names have also been used to describe the Moon during a solar eclipse, when the Moon lines up directly between the Sun and Earth, leaving a glowing ring around the Moon and making it appear black as it is entirely in the shadow.

Despite the different shapes and colors that we see, the Moon itself never changes size. Our perspective of it changes as it orbits around us, making it seem like it can change size. The Micro Moon occurs when the Moon is at its furthest point from Earth, making it seem like it has shrunk. The Super Moon, on the other hand, occurs when the Moon is at its closest part of its orbital path to Earth, making it seem larger and brighter than usual.

In essence, we only have ONE Moon that orbits Earth, but the different perspectives that we have of it make it appear different in shape and color.

FAQ

1. What is a moon?

A moon is a natural satellite that orbits around a planet. It is generally spherical in shape and is held in place by the planet’s gravitational pull. Moons are commonly found in our solar system, with each planet having at least one moon.

2. How many moons does Earth have?

Earth has only one moon, which is simply called the Moon. It is the fifth largest moon in the solar system and is the largest in relation to the size of its host planet. The Moon has been studied extensively by scientists and is known to have a significant impact on Earth’s tides and other natural phenomena.

3. What are the different types of moons?

There are several different types of moons, including rocky moons, icy moons, and gas giant moons. Rocky moons, like Earth’s Moon, are made up of solid rock and have a rocky surface. Icy moons, like Jupiter’s Europa, are made up of ice and have a smooth, icy surface. Gas giant moons, like Saturn’s Titan, are made up mostly of gas and have a thick atmosphere.

4. What is a tidally locked moon?

A tidally locked moon is a moon that always shows the same face to its host planet. This occurs because the moon’s rotation period is the same as its orbital period around the planet. Earth’s Moon is an example of a tidally locked moon, as it always shows the same face to Earth.

5. What is a rogue moon?

A rogue moon is a moon that is not orbiting a planet, but instead is moving freely through space. These moons are thought to have been ejected from their original planetary system and are now traveling through space on their own.

6. What is a moonlet?

A moonlet is a small moon that is typically less than a kilometer in diameter. These small moons are often found orbiting larger moons or planets.

7. Can moons have moons?

While it is theoretically possible for moons to have moons, known as submoons or moonmoons, none have been discovered yet. The gravitational forces between a moon and its host planet would make it difficult for a submoon to remain in a stable orbit for an extended period of time.

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