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  Weekly Feature (August 20, 2006)

The MoonThe Moon


Have you ever wondered what the terms “full moon”, “new moon”, or “blue moon” mean? Did you know there are phases of the moon?

The moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite. It has a diameter of 3476 km and is approximately 384 400 km from Earth. It is the second brightest object in the sky after the sun.

The moon orbits around the Earth once per month. The moon keeps the same face towards Earth at all times; this is known as synchronous rotation. As it orbits our planet, we see the cycle of the moon’s phases due to the changes in relative positions of the Earth, the moon, and the sun.

The sun illuminates the half of the moon facing the sun (except during lunar eclipses). When the sun and moon are on opposite sides of the Earth, the moon appears bright or “full”.

When the moon is between the Earth and the sun, it appears dark, or as a “new” moon. In between, the moon’s illuminated surface appears to grow (wax) to full, then decreases (wanes) to the next new moon.

To learn more about the moon and it phases, visit

The Moon: Royal Observatory

The Phases of the Moon

Moon at Wikipedia



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Civics Studies 11

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