Have you ever noticed that the moon looks different at different times of the month? Sometimes, we see a crescent moon on the western horizon, just after sunset. At other times, we see the moon as a full circle rising in the eastern sky, just after full dark. Sometimes, the moon looks like half a circle directly overhead and sometimes, we can't see the moon at all!
Today, we're going to do a craft project that will help us learn the phases of the moon. We'll be making something I like to call a moon clock. Follow the instructions in the photos below and make one along with me!
The moon has eight phases and takes about 29 days to move through all eight phases. The phases of the moon are:
Waxing Crescent Moon ("waxing" means getting bigger)
First Quarter Moon
Waxing Gibbous Moon
Waning Gibbous Moon ("waning" means getting smaller)
Third Quarter Moon (sometimes, this is called the Last Quarter Moon)
Waning Crescent Moon
...and back to the New Moon again.
You can see each of these phases illustrated in the photos of the "moon clock".
The moon looks like it grows and shrinks and grows again as time passes, from crescent moon to full moon and back to crescent moon again. But in reality, the moon stays the same size from night to night. It only appears to change because of how the Earth's shadow moves across it.
When the moon is new, the Earth's shadow covers it entirely, and so it is not visible to us in the night sky. As the month progresses, the Earth's shadow moves and, each night, more and more of the moon is revealed. It takes about 2 weeks to go from a new, or dark moon to a full moon that is completely visible in the night sky. In another 2 weeks, the shadow of the Earth will creep back over the face of the moon and the phase of the moon will change from full back to new again.
Once you've made your moon clock, you'll need to make sure to keep the hand pointed at the correct phase. You can sometimes tell the phase of the moon just by looking out your window, but at other times (if the weather is cloudy, for example), you'll want to use an almanac. Here is a link to the Moon Phase Calendar from the Old Farmer's Almanac: https://www.almanac.com/astronomy/moon/calendar
October, 2020 is a special month because it has not one, but TWO full moons! When a month has two full moons, the second full moon is called a Blue Moon. Blue Moons are rare - they only happen every two or three years!
Here is a list of all the moon phases the month of October, 2020, to help you get started:
October 1: Full Moon (Harvest Moon)
October 2-8: Waning Gibbous Moon
October 9: First Quarter Moon
October 10-15: Waning Crescent Moon
October 16: New Moon
October 17-22: Waxing Crescent Moon
October 23: First Quarter Moon
October 24-30: Waxing Gibbous Moon
October 31: Full Moon (Blue Moon)