When we refer to the lunar face which we can’t see from the earth, we often use the term dark side of the moon. In other words, we refer to the far side of the moon, which sees as much sunlight as the side facing the earth, even though it points away from the earth. So, basically, you see that the dark side of the moon is not actually dark in reality. The reason behind this is a physics phenomenon that we refer to as tidal locking. Thus, through this article, we will take a look at what it means, its discovery, why we can’t see it, the temperature, and finally, all the phases of the moon.
Introduction to the Dark Side of the Moon
Have you noticed that whenever you look at the sky at night in order to see the moon, it might appear the same every time? So, no matter how we see the moon or where we see it from, it will always seem to us that it features the same landscape.
So, this side of the moon which we are never able to see while we are on earth is called the dark side of the moon. Most importantly, it is not correct to call this side of the moon as the dark side of the moon as it is not dark. It is merely because this side does not face the earth. So, it is visible only from space.
Discovery of the Dark Side of the Moon
Looking back at the discovery of this dark side, it goes back to 1959. In this year, as a part of the Luna program, a Soviet space probe, Luna 3 was sent to space. Thus, it is what sent back the images of the moon which we never saw while on earth. In other words, the images showed us the dark side of the moon which were never visible to humans from the planet earth.
Why Can’t We See The Dark Side of The Moon?
We cannot see the dark side of the moon as the moon is tidally locked to the earth. The earth rotates on its axis constantly much like the moon. The time which the moon requires for rotating about its axis accurately matches the time which it needs to orbit the earth because earth and moon are tidally locked.
To put it simply, the moon’s rotational period and the orbital period is the same. Thus, it enables us to see only one side of the moon. All in all, we can articulate that only one side of the moon always faces the earth because of the sync in rotation and revolution of earth and moon. In that way, another side which we can never see, we refer to it as the dark side.
Temperature on Moon
The temperature on the moon is extreme. It ranges from boiling hot to chilling cold. Basically, it depends on the position of the sun. In other words, the temperature is 127℃ when the sunlight reaches the surface of the moon.
On the contrary, the temperature is -173℃ when the sun goes down. On the moon, day time lasts for 13.5 days while the night time lasts for 13 days.
Different Phases of the Moon
There are basically eight phases of the moon. They are new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous moon, full moon, waning gibbous moon, third-quarter moon and waning crescent moon. Now, we will look at all the phases of the moon in detail.
It is the first phase of the moon. It happens when the moon is between the sun and the earth. During this phase, we do not see the moon because the dark side of the moon is facing the earth.
It is the second phase which takes place after a few days of the new moon. During this phase, the moon travels towards the east. There are instances when the rest of the moon is visible because of the phenomenon which we refer to as earthshine. It is where it reflects sunlight to the moon.
It is the third phase for the duration of which we may see either right half of the illuminated moon or the left half of the illuminated moon. It basically depends on your location. In here, the moon completes the 1/4th of the lunar phase.
Waxing Gibbous Moon
It is the fourth phase where the waxing signifies growing large and gibbous means shape, therefore, the “growing shape”.
It is the fifth phase of the moon when the sun and the moon are on the opposite side of the earth. Further, when the moon is at its closest point to the earth, we refer to it as “supermoon”. On the other hand, when it is at the farthest point from the earth, we call it the “micro-moon”.
Waning Gibbous Moon
It is the sixth phase of the moon. The meaning of waning is decreasing. Thus, we mean it as a decrease in shape which lasts until the moon is half illuminated.
It is the seventh phase of the moon in which the moon has completed 3/4th of the lunar phase.
Waning Crescent Moon
Finally, the last phase of the moon arrives during which “earthshine” is visible. This phase ends when both the sun and the moonrise at the same time gives rise to a new lunar cycle.
FAQ on Dark Side Of The Moon
Question 1: What is the temperature on the moon?
Answer 1: The temperature on the moon is extreme. It ranges from boiling hot to chilling cold. Basically, it depends on the position of the sun. The temperature is 127℃ when the sunlight reaches the surface of the moon. On the contrary, the temperature is -173℃ when the sun goes down.
Question 2: What does the full moon mean?
Answer 2: It is the fifth phase of the moon when the sun and the moon are on the opposite side of the earth. Further, when the moon is at its closest point to the earth, we refer to it as “supermoon”. On the other hand, when it is at the farthest point from the earth, we call it the “micro-moon”.