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One revolution of the Moon around Earth takes a little over 27 days 7 hours. The Moon rotates on its axis in this same period of time, so the same face of the Moon is always presented to Earth. Over a period a little longer than 29 days 12 hours, the Moon goes through a series of phases, in which the amount of the lighted half of the Moon we see from Earth changes. These phases are caused by the changing angle of sunlight hitting the Moon. (The period of phases is longer than the period of revolution of the Moon, because the motion of Earth around the Sun changes the angle at which the Sun’s light hits the Moon from night to night.)
The Moon’s orbit around Earth is tilted 5° from the plane of Earth’s orbit. Because of this tilt, when the Moon is at the point in its orbit when it is between Earth and the Sun, the Moon is usually a little above or below the Sun. At that time, the Sun lights the side of the Moon facing away from Earth, and the side of the Moon facing toward Earth is dark. This point in the Moon’s orbit corresponds to a phase of the Moon called the new moon. A quarter moon occurs when the Moon is at right angles to the line formed by the Sun and Earth. The Sun lights the side of the Moon closest to it, and half of that side is visible from Earth, forming a bright half-circle. When the Moon is on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun, the face of the Moon visible from Earth is lit, showing the full moon in the sky.


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