The Dark Side of the Moon?

The “dark side” of the Moon crosses the face of the Earth.

The Moon is tidally locked to the Earth, which means that we always see the same side of the Moon. People have come to call the side of the moon that we do not see the “dark side” of the Moon, as they think that this side never sees the sun and that the Moon’s phases are the result of the Earth’s shadow on the Moon. However, this is a common misconception. The phases of the Moon are not caused by the Earth blocking part of the Sun’s light. They are actually a result of the Moon’s position in its orbit around the Earth. Sunlight hits the Earth and Moon from the same direction, and they are both always half lit. The orbiting bodies’ relative positions to each other cause us to see different amounts of this light, creating the phases. Depending on its location in its orbit around the Earth, the Moon appears to be full, new, waxing, or waning. So, the “dark side” of the Moon is not really dark all of the time. In fact, it is only fully dark during what we call a full moon. The picture above shows the Moon’s “dark side” almost fully lit as it orbits around the Earth. So, the “dark side” of the Moon is not an accurate name. Something like the “back side” or the “other side” may be better when referring to the side of the Moon that we do not see.

5 thoughts on “The Dark Side of the Moon?

  1. Hi Olivia. Thank you for sharing this insightful post about the dark side of the moon. It is easy to assume that the “dark side” of the moon is dark all of the time, but in reality it is only dark during a full moon, which is when the moon appears fully illuminated from Earth’s perspective. I agree with you that the “dark side” of the moon is not an accurate name and that the “other side” of the moon is a great alternative for referring to the side of the moon that we do not see from earth.

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  2. Really cool post Olivia! Its so interesting that we happen to be tidally locked to the moon, letting us see only one side of it at all times. Even though it gets all the sunlight, it really is dark as in mysterious huh?

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  3. I thought it was an interesting point to address the misconception that people have with the “dark side” of the moon. Although we only see portions of the same face lit up, it is fascinating to realize that there is always half of the moon lit up. The concept reminds me a lot of how the Sun will be shining during the day on the other side of world while it is dark and night time where you are. It is interesting to put into perspective how we are constantly orbiting the Sun while rotating on an axis with the moon orbiting around us, affecting the phases of the moon that we see each day. I wonder if astronauts have step foot on the “dark side” of the moon, or if they landed on the side that we see.

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  4. Good work Olivia educating us on this concept as it is something you need to know for your test tomorrow! I recently learned that there is a campaign to refer to it as the “far side”. Did you read that the term “dark side” became popular all because of the name of a Pink Floyd album?!


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