Astronomy is the scientific study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth's atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). It is concerned with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe.

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The issue of lunar origin has been a subject of scientific speculations since the times of Galileo. The origin of the Moon is unknown, although there are a number of scientific hypothesis trying to describe where the Moon came from. The Moon is as old as the Earth - 4.6 billion years (this fact was stated by the scientists as they measured the age of lunar rocks). 
 
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As the moon revolves around the Earth, the amount of sunlight that it receives varies depending on its position which gives the impression that the Moon is changing its shape in the sky. This is caused by the different angles from which we see the bright part of the Moon's surface known as the ‘phases’ of the Moon. Of course, the Moon doesn't generate any light itself; it just reflects the light of the Sun. The Moon passes through eight phases during a cycle that repeats itself every 29.5 days.

Phases of the Moon

Following is the description of each of the phase that a Moon takes:
  • Phase 1 - New Moon: The side of the moon that faces the Earth does not receive any light from the sun, hence, the moon is not visible.
  • Phase 2 - Waxing Crescent: During this phase, less than half the moon is lit and as the phase progresses, the part that is lit up gradually gets bigger.
  • Phase 3 - First Quarter: The moon reaches this phase when half of it is visible.
  • Phase 4 - Waxing Gibbous: The beginning of this phase is marked when the moon is half the size. As the phase progresses, the part that is list gets bigger.
  • Phase 5 - Full Moon: The side of the moon that faces the Earth light from the sun completely, hence the entire moon is visible. This occurs when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth.
  • Phase 6 - Waning Gibbous: During this phase, the part of the moon that is visible from Earth gradually becomes smaller.
  • Phase 7 - Last Quarter: The moon reaches this phase when half of it is visible.
  • Phase 8 - Waning Crescent: Only a small part of the moon is visible in this phase which gradually becomes smaller.
There is a possibility that is a single month, we get to witness the full moon twice. In such cases, the second full moon is often known as a Blue Moon.

Moon Timings

As the Moonrise takes place roughly 50 minutes later each day when compared to the day before. This phenomenon has led to very concise timings of Moonrise during each of its phases. The moon rise timings are as follows:
  • Sunrise heralds the rise of a New Moon.
  • The first quarter Moon rises at afternoon.
  • The Sunset heralds the rise of a Full Moon.
  • The last quarter Moon rises in the middle of night.
Interesting Facts

Some interesting facts about the moon are as follows:
  • The diameter of the moon is 3476 km which makes it radius 1738 km. The density us 3.34 gm/cube cm and the mass of the moon is 7310 kg.
  • The moon is about four times smaller when compared to the Earth while the gravity of the moon is about six times lesser.
  • The moon orbits the Earth on a circular path in the counter – clockwise direction at a speed of 3700 km/hour.
  • The Earth is at a distance of 384,400 km from the Moon.
  • Contrary to the popular belief, the moon does have an atmosphere of its own. However, it is not suitable for the human lungs. The lunar air is made up of hydrogen and helium and a little neon and argon.
  • The moon is mainly made up of aluminum and silicate.
  • The gravitational pull of the moon that causes the low tide and the high tide in our oceans and seas.
Moon and (Black) Magic

The Moon has always occupied a very magical place in traditional astrology, witchcraft and satanic practices across the world. The modern science is way behind in explaining various lunar effects and its role in the natural events of the Earth. Many researchers claim that suicide rates and the number of accidents and acts of violence increases during the full moon.

I would like to end this article quoting Mahatma Gandhi who said that, "When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator".


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