The Effects of the Moon

The Moon Causes Tides

Since the moon is our closest neighbor, and it is a very massive object it exerts a strong gravitational pull on the Earth.  It is not strong enough for us to feel, or to effect the continents, but it does have a large effect on the world's oceans.


The moon's gravity pulls upwards on the water in the ocean, creating a bulge of water directly beneath the moon.    This upward bulge of water means the surface of the oceans water reaches higher onto the land, creating what we call a HIGH TIDE.Because the oceans are connected, a similar bulge forms on the opposite side of the Earth.

90 degrees from the high tide location is a part of the ocean where the water has been pulled away, creating lower than normal ocean levels called a LOW TIDE.


In one full day there are four tides that occur cyclically.  2 high tides and 2 low tides.  This happens because, as the Earth rotates underneath the moon the High Tide effects different areas.


Spring Tides

During its orbit around the Earth, the Moon's gravity interacts with the gravitational pull of the Sun.  Twice each month, the Earth, Moon, and Sun line up, and the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun combine.  

When this happens we get specials tides which are more extreme than regular tides

These are called SPRING TIDES, and they occur during the NEW MOON AND FULL MOON PHASES:




At two other points on the Moon's orbit, the Earth, Moon, and Sun form a 90 degree angle.  In this case the Moon's gravitational pull and the Sun's gravitational pull conflict with each other.

When this happens we get special tides that are weaker than regular tides.

These are called NEAP TIDES, and they occur during the FIRST and THRID QUARTER PHASES



Another strange effect of the Earth, Sun, Moon system is the creation of eclipses.  An eclipse occurs when one object in space moves into the shadow of another object.  On Earth we experience two different types of eclipses:  Lunar and Solar.  

Lunar Eclipse



  • A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon moves behind the Earth and falls into our shadow.
  • This means less light hits the moon, so it becomes darker, and takes on a reddish, blood-like hue.
  • This can only occur during a FULL MOON

Solar Eclipse

  • A solar eclipse happens when the Earth moves behind the Moon and falls into the Moon's shadow
  • This means that the Moon blocks out part, or all of the Sun in the locations on Earth directly under it.  In a total solar eclipse day turns to night, until the moon moves out of the way.
  • This can only occur during a NEW MOON PHASE