Movements of the Moon Lesson for Kids: Orbit & Rotation

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Moon moves around in space, just like the Earth. In fact, the movements of the moon are very similar to Earth's movements! In this lesson, we'll take a look at how the Moon moves.

The Moon: Just a Nighttime Beauty?

You have probably looked up at our planet's moon and noticed how beautiful it is. You've probably also noticed that sometimes it is full and bright, and sometimes you can only see part of it. And have you ever noticed that sometimes you can't see it at night, but you can during the day? Our view of the Moon changes because it is constantly moving through space, just like Earth is. The moon has two main movements: its revolution and its rotation.

The Moon is a familiar, beautiful sight in the sky.
The Moon

Revolution: Movement Around the Earth

The Moon moves around the Earth in a movement called revolution. This is very similar to Earth's revolution around the Sun. The path the Moon takes to go all the way around the Earth is called its orbit. It takes about 27 days for the Moon to revolve around the Earth once. The revolution of the Moon around Earth is not its only movement, though! It is also spinning in space.

The Moon moves around the Earth once every 27 days.
Moon and Earth

Rotation: The Moon is Spinning!

The Moon spins in space in a movement called rotation. Oddly enough, it also takes the Moon about 27 days to spin around once (which is much slower than Earth's rotation, which only takes 24 hours). That means the Moon goes all the way around Earth in the same amount of time it takes to spin around just once! This makes it so we can only see one side of the Moon from Earth. The other side of the moon, which some people call the 'dark side' of the Moon, has only been seen by a handful of humans: the Apollo astronauts when they visited the moon. You can see pictures of the 'dark side' of the Moon, which have been taken by astronauts and space probes.

The movements of the Moon cause the phases we see throughout each month.
Moon Phases

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