Sun & Moonlight
The Sun doesn’t just support life on Earth and light the Moon for us to see. Sunlight also plays a major role in lunar weather. Morning on the Moon brings scorching temperatures. After sundown, and in places that never see daylight, it’s ultra-cold and pitch-black. Solar radiation bakes the lunar surface, giving the landscape a “sunburn” and building up static electricity in the Moon’s outer layers.
Shedding Light on Lunar Science
Studying the Sun’s effects helps us to understand the Moon better. For example, when the Sun sets and night falls on the Moon, some spots cool down faster than others. These temperature variations hint at the rocks that lie on the lunar surface.
Scientists work together with robotic helpers like NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to create detailed maps of the Moon’s temperature, radiation environment, chemical signatures, and more. We use clues like these to learn what the Moon is like now and how it is evolving over time.
Not Just A Phase
You can observe one of the most striking interactions between Sun and Moon for yourself—Moon phases!
Writer: Caela Barry, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Science Advisors: Bill Farrell, John Keller, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center