See all the phases of the moon, by day and by night! Find out why the same side of the moon always faces the Earth, and look for the areas where all six of the Apollo missions landed.


Hello and welcome. I'm Jane Houston Jones from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

November weather can be challenging for backyard astronomers, but the moon is a reliable target, even when there are clouds.

The moon takes about 29 days to go around the Earth once. And it also takes the moon about 29 days to spin once on its axis. This causes the same side of the moon to always face Earth.

On November 3, the moon reaches last quarter when it rises at midnight and sets at noon. This is a great time to see the moon in the morning sky.

On November 11 the new moon isn't visible, because it's between Earth and the sun, and the unlit side faces Earth. In the days after the new moon the slender crescent gets bigger and brighter. Look just after sunset on November 13 and 14 near the setting sun in the western sky.

The next phase on November 19th is called the first quarter, because the moon has traveled one quarter of its 29-day orbit around Earth. The moon rises at noon and sets at midnight, so you can see it in the afternoon sky. It will rise higher in the sky after dark. That's when you can look for the areas where four of the six Apollo missions landed on the moon. You won't see the landers, flag or footprints, but it's fun and easy to see these historic places with your own eyes or with binoculars. Look for three dark, smooth maria, or seas. The middle one is the Sea of Tranquility. Apollo 11 landed very near a bright crater on the edge of this mare in 1969. The Apollo 15, 16 and 17 landing areas form the points of a triangle above and below the Apollo 11 site.

The full moon is the next phase, on the 14th day of the lunar cycle, which is November 25. It rises at sunset and is visible all night long, setting at sunrise.

The 15-day-old moon will rise an hour after sunset on Thanksgiving, November 26. You may see some interesting features! And this is a great time to see the impact rays of some of the larger craters.

You can learn about NASA's historic and current lunar missions and all of NASA's missions at

That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.

View all Videos