To the Moon and Back chapter sampler
A Tech Kid Grows Up
WHY DOES THE MOON LOOK THE SAME SIZE AS THE SUN?
The Sun is 400 times larger than the Moon — and it’s also 400 times further away! This coincidence allows us to observe ‘lunar eclipses’ (when the Moon covers the Sun). If the Sun were any nearer, the Moon would only be able to cover part of it. A solar eclipse can only occur close to a ‘new moon’, when the Moon is directly between Earth and the Sun, so that the Moon’s shadow falls on the part of Earth that will see the eclipse. This doesn’t happen every new moon because the Moon’s orbit is tilted about five degrees from the plane of the ecliptic — the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
WHY DOES THE MOON HAVE DIFFERENT SHAPES?
Although the Moon is always the same shape, just like Earth, we can only see the bit of the Moon that’s lit by the Sun. If you live in the southern hemisphere — as we do in
Australia — you see the ‘south’ pole of the Moon at its top. But in the northern hemisphere you see the Moon ‘right side up’, with its ‘north’ pole at the top of the Moon. So our ‘Man in the Moon’ has to live ‘upside down’ in the southern hemisphere!
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