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The Question

(Submitted March 09, 1998)

Is the dark side of the moon ever exposed to sunlight?

The Answer

The term "dark side of the Moon" is really a misnomer, because the side that we are familiar with is dark just as frequently. A better term might be "far side of the Moon."The orbit of the Moon is such that one rotation is just about as long as one revolution in its orbit around the Earth. Because of this, one side is facing us during its orbit. However, this side is often dark. During a "new moon", the moon is between the Earth and the Sun, and so the side we know is totally dark. When the moon is opposite from the Sun, the side we know will be totally bright, and the far side will be dark.

Steve Bloom
for Ask an Astrophysicist

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