﻿ Moon phases on other side of Earth: Planetarium

Moon phases on other side of Earth

02 April, 2009

Photograph of Moon at Full phase
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: If it is a full moon in Australia, is it also a full moon on the other side of the world?

Answer: The phases of the Moon are the same all around the world. Any two places that can see the Moon at the same time will see the same phase.

Each Moon phase happens at a precise point in the Moon's orbit around the Earth, and hence at a precise moment in time. This is the same moment all over the world, but will be a different local time for every time zone in the world.

For example, the first full moon of the 21st century occurred at 8:24pm on 9 January 2001, Universal Time. In Melbourne this moment was 7:24am on 10 January 2001, Australian Eastern Summer Time.

Of course opposite sides of the world will not be able to see the Moon at the same time. Only one half of the world will be able to see the moon when it is precisely at one of the phases. For the example I gave above, that Full Moon was visible from the United Kingdom, but not from Australia. The Moon had set in the west around two hours before it became full. However since the appearance of the Moon’s phase does not change very quickly, the Moon would have looked very full when it set.

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Brunswick East Primary School 1 May, 2009 13:05
We are studying Space in our classroom this term. After reading this article, here are some questions from our class. What Colour is the moon? Josh, Grade 2 How many different phases of the moon are there? Imogen, Grade 2 When you have a crescent moon, why can't you see the whole moon? Leila, Grade 1 How wide is the moon? Sam, Grade 2 How high up is the moon? Alycia, Grade 3 Does the moon have a moon of its own? Obi, Grade 3 Thanks, 1/2/3 Brunswick East Primary School
Discovery Centre 9 May, 2009 10:51

Hi Josh, Imogen, Leila, Sam, Alycia and Obi,

The colour of the Moon is very subtle: it has soft shades of grey, black and white, and regions of browns, blues and yellows. We generally say there are four phases of the Moon. New, First Quarter, Full, and Last Quarter. See the Moon Phases page of our website.

It is actually possible to see the whole Moon during the crescent moon phase. Sometimes there is so much light reflected from the Earth (Earthshine), that it lights up the part of the Moon that is not lit up by the Sun: we see the bright crescent Moon as well as the pale remainder of the Moon. As the Moon phase moves towards the Full moon, the Moon is so bright you can no longer see the arthshine on the Moon. The Moon has to be in the right position for the Earth to reflect the Sun's light onto the Moon's night side; this only happens just after the New Moon. This is called the Da Vinci Glow. You can find out more about it on the NASA website.

The diameter (width) of the moon is 3475.6 km (0.272 x that of Earth). The moon is (on average) 384 400 km from the Earth. The Moon does not have a moon of its own. You can learn more about The Moon on our website.

Ruth Slocum 3 January, 2010 16:15
On behalf of my daughter: TV News stated that there was a "blue moon" in December.My calendar says that full moon actually occurred on the 1st January, 2010, not 31st December 2009, and the next full moon is to occur at the end of January, making it a "blue moon" in January. Which is correct?
Wayne Konopaske 28 August, 2010 15:41
Hi Melbourne Planetarium, Could you please confirm something for me? When I visted Australia a couple years ago, I really hoped to see a full moon and see that it was inverted from what I normally see in the United States. For example, on your website you have a beautiful full moon picture showing the "Sea of Crisis" in the 8 o'clock position where normally I see it in the 2 o'clock position. Unfortunately, conditions were such that I never got to see that. Is it correct that this the way the moon looks to you deep in the southern hemisphere where looks the opposite to me deep in the northern? Thanks very much.
Discovery Centre 4 September, 2010 14:43
Hi Wayne, yes, views of the Moon seen from one hemisphere compared to the other hemisphere are inverted. It’s due to the changed angle looking out from the spherical surface of the Earth. The same “upside down” effect is noticeable for constellations in the night sky too provided you are far enough north or south of the equator. Mid to high latitudes show this quite clearly.
Lynne Hancock 11 September, 2010 20:28
Looking at the moon tonight we noticed a large star or bright plannet above it to the right. Can you please tell me what it is? This was at about 8.15 - 8.30 pm on Saturday 11th September 2010. We haven't noticed this before. Thank you for your help.
Discovery Centre 14 September, 2010 13:33

Hi Lynne, the bright object next to the Moon last Saturday was Venus. Just below it was the planet Mars, which is slightly orange/red in colour and not very bright. There is also a bright star called Spica very near as well, but this is nowhere near as bright as Venus. You can find more info in the Planetarium Skynotes.

lawrence 24 February, 2011 11:44
although we see full moon at same time worldwide - does the waxing and waning happen oppositely. In northern hemisphere after a full moon visible part becomes a c whereas in southern hemisphere visible part becomes a d?
Discovery Centre 24 February, 2011 15:20
Hello Lawrence - the waxing and waning does appear to happen in an opposite seqence here from the Sothern Hemisphere, but this is because the moon appears 'upside down' compared to what is seen in the Northern Hemisphere - I hope that answers your question!
Andrew 18 January, 2012 15:23
While on a motorcycle tour through Lao, my friend and I stoped for the night at a town in the mountains called Phu Khon, this town is on the 19.5 paralell.We noticed the moon was in the first or last quater but the crescent was parallel to the horison like a smile, and orange in colour. We have not seen the moon in this position before, what were we seeing? Was this view because of our altitude, or could it be light reflection from Earth? This was on the 29th December 2011 at about 9:00pm. Can you shed some light for us? Cheers.
Discovery Centre 21 January, 2012 10:16
Hi Andrew, the direction the crescent shape of the Moon faces depends on a number of factors. Principally it depends on where on the Earth you are viewing the Moon. The view in the northern hemisphere is the opposite to that in the southern hemisphere, and on the equator it is halfway in between. The next important factor is whether it is a waxing or a waning moon, i.e. is it just after a new moon or just before a new moon. And lastly the time of the day or night you are looking at the moon.

So when you were near the equator on the 29th December the crescent moon in the early evening would be waxing (just after a new moon) and would be halfway between facing left and right, just like a boat.The red/orange colour is due to atmospheric pollution, most likely due to volcanic ash or bush fire smoke.

Terry Bates 24 January, 2012 19:04
We have just returned to the UK from a month in Australia and during the last few days in Brisbane we saw some very clear nights to look at the stars. It was only then that amongst the family we realised we had not seen the moon or any of its phases during the last couple of nights.Was this just bad looking or a specific reason?
Discovery Centre 27 January, 2012 11:51

Hello Terry,

There was a New Moon on Monday 23rd so no Moon could be seen for a couple of days either side of that.  Check out Skynotes for this information. http://museumvictoria.com.au/planetarium/discoverycentre/skynotes/

Kate 20 June, 2012 08:51
Hello, I was wondering if you could tell me more about the images used in this article. Were they taken from Australia?
Discovery Centre 20 June, 2012 13:03
Hi Kate, yes they were taken in Australia. If you do an online image search for moon images taken in the Northern Hemisphere, you can compare them to our images and see the inversion described in the article and comments above.
Fathima 24 July, 2012 17:31
Hi,am from Lakshadweep(India). Can you please clear my doubts regarding the phases of the moon. Can we see the same phase(crescent) of the moon from all over India on the same day. when should we see the moon? early morning or evening (during sunrise or sunset). Here some people sighted the crescent moon on 19.07.2012(morning), some on 20.07.2012(evening) and some on 21.07.2012(evening). who is right? Please do help.Please reply soon.
Aptitude Design 29 September, 2013 16:50
Hi, Fathima: the New Moon cannot be seen in the morning; it cannot be seen until some 15 hours have elapsed since conjunction. Some folk get all mixed up, when it comes to the Moon.
Discovery Centre 2 October, 2013 12:39

The Moon phases are the same the whole world over. The time the Moon rises and sets however vary depending on your location.  The Geoscience Australia website has a tool you can use to help you calculate rise and set times.

A new Moon cannot be seen, but will be just visible as a crescent morning the day after very low down in the morning sky. You might also want to have a look at the Museum's Moon infosheet for further information.

Chris 8 September, 2012 09:21
I am a teacher and we are studying moon phases. Can you tell if a first quarter moon in the southern hemisphere will always have the left hand side lit ? If so how can you tell if a moon is first or last quarter if it is on its side ?
Discovery Centre 15 September, 2012 12:13

Hi Chris - We think the Moon infosheet may help explain this a bit better; if you look at the diagrams on this page showing the phases of the moon, they depict the view from the southern hemisphere.  From the northern hemisphere then these are the other way around because we are effectively “upside down”. At first quarter, as you can  see the Moon rises about midday so the Sun would be shining on its left side.

Hope this of some help

Rain 17 November, 2012 16:57
Hello, I live on Kauai and have a question about the position of the moon in the sky.. a few days ago the moon was low in the eastern part of the sky at approx 7pm, and tonight the moon is low in the western part of the sky at the same time. We're confused and would appreciate any clarification you can give. Thank you.
Discovery Centre 21 November, 2012 11:55
Hi Rain, the short answer is that as the moon orbits the Earth (taking roughly a month) it doesn’t match or keep pace with our planet’s rotation. In other words, the Moon’s speed is slow enough for us to see it day or night depending on where it is in its orbit. It’s quite possible to see the moon on one side of the sky and after a few days in quite a different side.

Matt 22 December, 2012 01:08
My wife REALLY wants to know why it is that sometimes Okinawa, Japan and Minot, North Dakota can see the moon at the same time
Discovery Centre 8 January, 2013 15:03

Hi Matt,

If you're on the Moon looking at the Earth, then at some part of the day you would be able to see on one side of the Earth Okinawa and on the other side Minot, North Dakota. Conversely at the same time you would be able to see the Moon from both of these places.

If you look at the following website you can calculate the rise and set times of the Moon at any location around the world.: Geoscience Australia - Compute Moonrise & Moonset Times

Okinawa is at latitude 26.5 degrees North and longitude 128 degrees East, and Minot is 48.13 North and 101.7 West, so using the table you can see that on the 10th of January this year the Moon will rise at 21:20 UT (06:20 local time) in Okinawa while at Minot it will rise at 13:15 (7:15 local time) and set at 22:23. This means that on this date both locations will be able to see the moon for an hour.

sarma chilukuri 28 December, 2012 02:38
HI Why is the moon phase same around the world on a given day unlike the sun which rises/sets at local time while the it is different part of the day in different time zones.
Daizia 8 January, 2013 17:27
Would the phases of the moon matter if the sun were positioned on the other side of the earth?
Discovery Centre 19 January, 2013 14:23

Hi Daizia,

The phases of the Moon are the same no matter where you are on the Earth at the same time. If the Sun is positioned on the other side of the Earth then it would be night time at your viewing location, and the Moon would still be in its current phase. As the Earth revolves on its axis, we go from day to night, however the Moon, although it does revolve about the Earth, does not move a lot in relation to the Sun, so the phase stays the same no matter where you observe from.

Jen 25 January, 2013 10:17
How do the phases of the moon appear in Polar regions?
rahul 26 May, 2013 17:44
I live on cocoa island still part of WA. I see the moon growing from the bottom up .why is that
Lisbeth Berridge 25 June, 2013 08:14
Currently in Tasmania we are watching a "super" moon, because, I am told, the moon is closest to the earth at this time. Would my friend in France also be seeing a super moon? 25th June 2013. Great to have this website, thanks.
Pawan Kumar 9 July, 2014 16:35
We see only 1 side of moon. If I stand on moon would the same thing happen, I can see only one side of earth. if yes then which side or continent/ countries are in front of moon's near side.
Discovery Centre 10 July, 2014 15:54

Hi Pawan, good question! We often get the reverse; how much of the Moon can we see from Earth?

Yes, the Moon always has one side facing us because it turns once on its axis in the month it takes to orbit the Earth. It’s said to be “tidally locked” to Earth. But the Earth turns on its axis too but much faster - once every 24 hours - so on the Earth-facing side of the Moon you would see most of the Earth over that 24 hour period. However, for part of that time some of the Earth will be dark in night time so you would need a few days to see all the countries, continents and oceans in daylight. Also, the Moon’s orbit is at a small angle to Earth’s equator so it would take a while to see all of the Earth’s polar regions.

We love receiving comments, but can’t always respond.

wytnii 12 July, 2014 21:23
I was just wondering..when the U.S. can see the moon all night and all of the next day what does the other side of the work see?? Do they not have the moon for their night?
Shyla 6 September, 2014 00:54
Hi, Was just wondering, as we can see the moon during the daytime here sometimes(China), what are people on the opposite side of the world (North America) seeing at that same time, since it should be night there?
Discovery Centre 8 September, 2014 14:46

Hi Shyla, when you see the moon during the day, the other side of the world which is having night would not see the moon at that moment. And conversely, when you see the moon at night, the other side of the earth having daytime would not see it at that moment. It may help to picture the earth rotating once every 24hrs and realise that is faster than the moon’s slower orbit around the earth, or, to put it the other way, the moon moves only a short distance in its orbit around the earth in the time earth completes a full spin.

William Weaver 16 March, 2015 16:13
I have a lovely photo of the moon amongst high cloud in the afternoon taken from Fiji on 2nd November 2008. It ended up sideways on my computer and I've never been sure which way is up. The crescent is thin and either presenting as a C with the convex side facing slightly top left, or a D slightly facing bottom right. Could you please tell me which is correct?
Discovery Centre 26 March, 2015 11:55

Hi William

Fiji lies 18 degrees south and on 2 November 2008 the moon was showing 14-15% of its illuminated surface (that is; a crescent phase looking like a capital “C” with horns or pointed ends). It rose around 6.30am in the East (ESE) and set about 8pm in the west (ESW). The key thing to know is when the photo was taken as during the day the moon’s orientation will slowly change as the Earth rotates and it appears to travel across the sky. The crescent moon will appear to turn or rotate clockwise, but here are some sample times and orientations to help pin it down… 7am moon like a “C” leaning to right with horns pointing to lower right. 10am moon “C” turned fully sideways (lying horizontal) with horns pointing directly down. 1pm moon “C” turned further (like mirror image or reversed C) with horns pointing to right. 4pm moon “C” turned more with horns pointing to upper left. 7pm moon “C” turned (lying on its back) with horns pointing directly upwards. I hope this makes it possible to orient the photo as close to the correct time it was taken.

jennifer 25 July, 2015 08:02
why is it that Alaska has thirty days of night or thirty days of daytime. so at this time were is the sun or the moon.
Discovery Centre 6 September, 2015 12:39

Hi Jennifer - we checked with one of our Astronomy specialists at the Planetarium, and they've answered as follows:

Alaska is in the high latitudes in the northern hemisphere. For part of the year in winter the Sun will be below the horizon for several weeks and won’t rise each day. This is due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis which is 23.5 degrees from vertical. Six months later in summer Alaska will have the Sun above the horizon for a similar amount of time. The further you are away from the equator, and so closer to either the north or south pole, the more extreme this winter versus summer pattern is. This summer/winter pattern is opposite for high latitudes in the southern hemisphere.

The Moon is very different thing. It takes a month to travel around (orbit) the Earth and can appear in the night or day. Apart from the Sun, it’s the only thing in space we can see during the day because it’s so close. In the 24 hours it takes the Earth to turn once (rotate) on its axis the Moon will eventually be seen from every place on Earth.

Casper Dyne 12 September, 2015 13:42
Hopefully you can answer this simple question. I was in Fiji for about six weeks in July and August. I am from England, and noted that the half moon was in horizontal position in Fiji compared to vertical position in England! Why is that?
Discovery Centre 14 September, 2015 10:27
Hi Casper,

As you move from north to south or south to north (that is, from one hemisphere to the other) the orientation of an object, like the moon or a star pattern, slowly inverts from the observer’s point of view. Fiji in the southern hemisphere is at latitude 18 degrees south. It’s a little more than halfway to a complete upside down view compared to UK. If you view the moon further and further south eventually it will be upside down to your usual UK northern hemisphere view. Being on a globe means that if you move north or south then the angle looking out to space will change too. Here’s a website from Kent, UK which provides more information.
Kiran 12 October, 2015 04:51
If i see a crescent moon in Oklahoma, USA, what moon would they see at night on the opposite side of the Earth? (Somewhere in China) Why?
Discovery Centre 17 October, 2015 12:13
Hi Kiran -

Both places will see the moon the same. Whatever the phase of the moon (that is, how much of the moon’s sunlit side is visible from Earth - crescent, quarter, half, full, etc..), every place on Earth will see it the same in the 24 hours it takes Earth to spin (rotate) once on its axis. The moon takes a month to orbit the Earth so in 24 hours it won’t have travelled enough to make any obvious change to its phase. The only difference to how the moon can look will be which hemisphere you view from. The moon phase won’t change but the moon (and star patterns too) will turn upside down (invert) if you travel far enough north or south of the equator which is simple geometry or change of viewing angle.

musawa 18 November, 2015 11:40
your answer about the moon phases always appearing the same every place on earth is misleading! The direction the crescent moons appear to be facing is actually reversed in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (ie., not just inverted/upside down, but also the mirror image of each other, ie., are facing the other way). While the moon phases are the same (ie, the new moon, waxing moon, full moon and waning moon occur at the same time all over the earth), the side of the moon that is lit up is reversed in the N and S Hemispheres: the waxing moon in the N. Hemisphere actually faces left, not right as it appears in the S. Hemisphere (as shown in the info sheet diagram) ...and the waning moon in the N Hemisphere actually faces right, not left as it appears in the S. hemisphere.
Johnathon 15 October, 2015 12:57
Oct 14,2015 I witness the moon rise in the west i was with to other people who witnessed the same moon, is this common?
Discovery Centre 17 October, 2015 12:35
Hi Johnathon,
Because the Earth's rotation is always the same direction, the moon will always rise in the east (or to some degree north or south of east). You may have been facing a different direction, or the moon may have already transited the sky. Here's a tool for working out lunar history: http://www.mooncalc.org/
Lai Chew Ping 28 December, 2015 00:21
Why does the moon look different from different locations? my husband and i had a dispute over this matter. he was at his shop when he saw a very very big, low, near and beautiful moon, he then informed me to look at it and take a picture of it. when i walk outside my house, the moon that i saw was high in the sky, slightly bigger and brighter than usual, not as big, near and low as he said. why is that so? the distance between his shop and my house was just a few kilometers apart. we were infact seeing the same moon at the same time, but why was there so much difference?
Discovery Centre 1 January, 2016 14:58
Hello! Our Planetarium staff say that human perception explains a lot about how the moon looks. If it's low to the horizon we have trees, buildings, mountains/hills and the like to compare it against and it seems bigger than higher in the sky where our eyes have nothing to compare it to (and so it seems smaller). When seen at the same time by two people who are nearby or even far apart, then local objects for comparison may not be the same, and also their subjective impressions will very often differ.

For more, plus a video, see:

http://astronomyfacts.org/moon/the-appearance-of-the-moon-from-earth/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_illusion

http://earthsky.org/space/video-the-moon-illusion

Rev. Frederick Lipp 28 January, 2016 05:13
I have an old friend living in UK and I live in Maine, USA. Please tell me the best times on a clear night we can look at the moon at the same time. Thank you.
Discovery Centre 8 February, 2016 11:38

Hi Frederick,

The Moon rises in the east due to Earth’s easterly rotation and Maine is 5 hours behind the UK. These website pages will show Moon rise and dates for UK and for Maine. To see the Moon at the same time, or simultaneously, choose a rising time & date for Maine. At that moment the Moon will already have risen in the UK some 5hrs earlier and therefore will be higher in the east due to Earth’s rotation. There will be several hours during the night when it will be visible from Maine and the UK before it sets in the west first for a UK observer and then 5hrs later for someone in Maine. The same can be done for daytime risings of the Moon as it is quite slow in its month-long orbit (compared to the Earth’s 24 hour rotation) so it will often be seen during the day.

Alex Fowler 16 March, 2016 17:44
Why does America have light 6 1/2 hours before Australia and England has light 7 hours before America even though they are so much closer together than we are to America?