Do you see different phases of the Moon around the world?

Does the Moon look different from the northern and southern hemispheres?


Asked by Brian Baur

The phases of the Moon that we see are caused by the relative positions of the Sun, Moon and Earth. The phase of the Moon is defined by the proportion of the Moon lit up by the Sun that is visible from Earth. Over the 24 hour period that it takes for the Earth to spin so that all areas can see the Moon, these relative positions wouldn’t alter enough to see a different phase of the Moon around the world.

However the Moon does not look completely identical from every location on Earth; depending how far South or North you are (your latitudinal position) the Moon appears to be rotated. In the northern hemisphere the sunlit part of the Moon travels from right to left while from the southern hemisphere the light appears to travel from left to right. This is simply down to the differing angles you are observing the Moon from.

Answered by Megan Whewell, Education Team Presenter for the National Space Centre

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