The British have a saying. Well, to be fair to the British, they have many sayings, but this one in particular is relevant to our discussion. Whenever something is titled or explained exactly how its supposed to be, people in Britain will say it “does exactly what it says on the tin”. Space.com’s Moon Phases 2018: A Calander of Moon Cycles and Cycle Names is quite literally that, an article that does exactly what you’d think it’d do from solely reading the title.
Written by Tim Sharp, this article details specific dates and on those dates, lists the certain phases the moon will experience over time. His dates and times are based in the Eastern US, but considering our close proximity to there as we are in the midwest, the times are quite close to what we’d observe on the same dates, just an hour ahead. Moreover, he helpfully lists what each of the phases are and how they will appear in the sky. In class, during our presentation and drawings on the board, we already learned what each of the individual phases were and what they looked like, but regardless his addition of definitions for each is appreciated. Not only are data tables and definitions given, there is also a handy little video at the top of the webpage detailing various facts about the lunar phases, the most touched upon being the misconception that Earth’s shadow on the moon is what causes phases. As we discussed briefly in class, this is not the case, as the phases appear as they are due to the various positions of the Earth, Sun, and Moon all in relation to each other at a given period. That is to say, we only see the parts of the moon that happen to be illuminated from our Earthly perspective at that given position.
As for what I’ve learned from this article, not that much, really. That is to say, nothing new that I hadn’t heard before, either in class or out of it. However, that is not to say it was a waste of time, in fact, I found it to be far from it. I found this story enjoyable and important as it served as a really simple refresher from what was done in class. Considering what we had originally done first occurred about a week ago (at the time of this blog post writing), the information discussed was not as fresh in my mind. This article helped retrieve that information and “revive” it, in a way, helping me come to a more solid and better understanding of how the moon changes phases and how they, in turn, appear here on Earth.