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Video transcript

when you look at the moon in the night sky it might seem reasonably close but it's actually incredibly far away right over here is a scaled picture of the distance between the earth and the moon earth has a diameter of approximately 8,000 miles while the moon has a diameter of approximately 2,200 miles so a little bit more than 1/4 diameter of Earth now the distance between the two is 239,000 miles which you can imagine is incredibly far now one thing that is very interesting this is why the moon looks like it's the same size as the Sun in the sky even though it is one 400th of the diameter is the ratio between the distance to the moon and the diameter of the moon is roughly the same as the ratio of the distance of the Sun to the diameter of the Sun so for the moon that ratio the distance to the moon 239,000 will do everything in miles over the radius of the Moon 2200 it's approximately the same as the ratio between the distance from Earth to the Sun which would be 93 million miles over eight hundred and sixty-five thousand miles in diameter so this number is roughly 400 times larger than that number and this number is roughly 400 times larger than that number but what's neat is and this depends on where Earth is in its orbit but this is approximately equal to 108 this gives me goosebumps whenever I think about it because it didn't have to be this way that the moon and the Sun even though they have these vastly different diameters that they look roughly the same size in the sky because the ratio of the distances is comparable to the ratio of their diameters and this is why the number 108 is actually an auspicious number in some cultures especially in Hinduism now when you're discussing the moon and especially the moon as you'd from earth one of the obvious questions is why does the moon go through phases why do we see different portions of the moon lit up from day to day this right over here is a diagram from NASA's website and what you see here clearly this is not at scale this picture over here this inner picture the size of the moon and the earth is roughly at scale but clearly the distances between them are not you don't see that 239,000 miles between them in this inner circle what you see is that the moon and the earth is always lit up from the right so it's assuming that the Sun is 93 million miles in that direction and it is lighting up both the earth and the moon from the right now as the moon rotates around the earth in its 28-day cycle and if you're wondering gee a 28-day cycle seems awfully close to a month that is not a coincidence the notion of a month comes from the cycles of the moon in fact even the word month and the word moon have the exact same root in Old English and in proto-germanic they are essentially the same word but what you see is the moon goes in this 28-day cycle when the moon is roughly between the Earth and the Sun the lit up half of the moon is away from what we can see here on earth and so we see the non lit up side which would be a new moon now as the moon goes this is viewing from above the earth this would be the North Pole right over here as it goes counterclockwise is viewed from above the earth we start to be able to see a little bit of that half of the moon that gets lit up so when the moon is in this position we see us from Earth from this vantage point we're able to see a little bit of the lit up side when the moon is over here we're able to see half the lit up side and half the non lit up side and that's called a first quarter moon and that keeps on going when we're halfway through our cycle here at a full moon the earth is between the moon and the Sun and so from our vantage point we are able to see the entire lit up side and that why it is a full moon and then we keep going all the way until we get back to a new moon now one question that might be bothering you it bothered me for many years as soon as I understood this the cycle of the moon how the moon has this 28-day cycle as Earth rotates around the Sun I always wondered well in a new moon it looks like the moon is between the Earth and the Sun why doesn't it block out the Sun every time we have a new moon why don't we have a solar eclipse every 28 days similarly for the full moons when we're in this position it looks like the earth is between the moon and the Sun why does an Earth's shadow block out the Sun so that we have a lunar eclipse instead of a full moon and we would have one of those every 28 days why don't we see that think about it yourself what's a plausible explanation in the next video we'll actually talk about why eclipses both solar eclipses when the moon blocks out the Sun and lunar eclipses when the Earth's shadow falls on the moon why they're not happening every 28 days