Lunar and Planetary Institute

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Moon Phases
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Web Sites

Aspire, an organized and engaging website from The University of Utah's Aspire program shares a wealth of information about lunar phases utilizing a lunar cycle animation. It is accompanied by thought-provoking questions presented in an engaging way for children ages 10 and up. Challenging quizzes will motivate viewers to learn more about this often misunderstood phenomenon. Also available in Spanish.

The changing faces of the Moon's surface are presented in a clear and detailed illustration for younger and older children along with the explanations for different Moon “names” and a brief narrative of Moon phases. This site offers a blank Moon-phases diagram for labeling, a Moon coloring page and quiz, and links to several other Web sites.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific offers an extensive reference list of books, articles, and Web sites pertaining to our Moon.

StarDate Online enables older children and young adults to view frequently asked questions about Moon phasing. An comprehensive list of Moon-related topics is presented, including lunar phases, full Moon names, lunar folklore from cultures around the world, and eclipses. Also available from this site is a glossary of lunar terminology and Moon-related products.

The cycle of lunar phases - about 29 days - is a little shorter than most calendar months. This means that the phase of the Moon at the start of the month often repeats at the close of the month. When there are two full Moons in a month (every two to three years), the second full Moon is called a "blue Moon".In this helpful site for educators, A Private Universe offers an in-depth Moon-phasing lesson using a light bulb and Styrofoam balls. A thorough explanation of phases is also presented along with an inquiry-based exercise in which students choose graphic illustrations to demonstrate both the correct and incorrect assumptions often made.

Windows to the Universe, provided by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), shares a brief explanation of Moon phases for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners enhanced by a link to special names given to particular phases, a graphic of lunar eclipses, and Galileo's drawings of the phases of our Moon.


Venus and Mercury also have phases that we can observe from Earth. We can observe phases of these two planets because their orbits lie inside Earth's orbit and therefore they move between the Sun and Earth.The Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory presents easily accessible data pertaining to Moon phases, including tables, images, illustrations, Moon phases by date, and “what the Moon looks like today.” Information and images are useful for all ages. Text is appropriate for young and older adults.

Lawrence Molnar of Calvin College's Department of Physics and Astronomy offers an interactive Java tool designed to enable older children to develop an understanding of the geometrical reasons behind the phases exhibited by our Moon. Students view and manipulate animations and “quiz” themselves on their knowledge.

“Exploring the Moon,” presented by the Lunar and Planetary Institute, offers extensive imagery and information associated with every lunar mission — manned and remote. Discussion of the history of Moon exploration and future missions, as well as products, materials, and links to other lunar Web sites, complements this rich resource.

StarChild, produced for NASA by the Goddard Space Flight Center, offers an educational and entertaining site that allows viewers of all ages to have fun with Moon phasing.

The “Project Astro” site, a collaborative effort between The National Optical Astronomy Observatory and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, includes video clips demonstrating Moon phasing from both space and Earth perspectives, along with an explicatory narrative suited for older children and young adult audiences


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