Now You See It, Now You Don't
Have you ever heard of a harvest moon? It earned its name from its golden color and how it seems to mysteriouslyappear in the fall, around harvest time. Unlike the sun, the moon sometimes seems unpredictable. You won't always find it in the same place in the sky at the same time each day. If you don't see the full moon rise in the East, do you really notice whether it's shiningor not? There are times when the moon is shining up in the sky at the same time as the sun. When the moon is smaller, like a crescent or half of a moon, it doesn't put out as much light at night, which makes it less noticeable. If the moon is high in the sky during the daytime, few people see it. They may even mistake it for a small patch of cloud. As the full moon starts to grow smaller or wane, you will see half a moon, then a sliver of light, and then no moon at all. A waxing moon is when the moon gradually grows until it is full again. When you see the half moons, they are what people call the first and third quarters. Can you guess why? These phases of the moon are caused by the moon following a path around the earth, just like the earth does around the sun. At times the earth blocks the sun's light so it cannotreach the moon. When this happens you only see the part of the moon that the light shines on whether it is day or night. It takes twenty-nine and a half of our solar days for the moon to go around the earth. If you were able to be on another planet further out in the solar system, you could see the phases of the Earth just like we see the phases of the moon.
JUST for FUN
Try keeping a journal of the times when the moon rises. You won't always be able to see it, but it should be about fifty minutes later each day. See if you can guess where it will be! In your journal draw the phases of the moon beside each day. Do you see any pictures in the moon's surface?