Sciency Words: Dark Side of the Moon

Sciency Words PHYS copy

Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words. Each week, we take a closer look at an interesting science or science-related term to help us all expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s term is:


As the Moon orbits the Earth, the same side of the Moon is always facing toward us. It’s like the Moon is staring at us, unblinking, perhaps with some awkward question it’s been meaning to ask.

My06 Stuff on the Moon

But what’s on the other side? What’s on the side facing away from us? Scientists call that the “dark side” of the Moon. Scientists love making Star Wars references, and this one really fits. The dark side of the Moon is cloaked in perpetual darkness, because it is not only turned away from Earth but also away from the Sun.

As a result, we don’t really know much about the dark side of the Moon. There have been rumors that the Apollo Missions, while in lunar orbit, observed secret alien bases in the Moon’s dark region. This is obvious nonsense. The dark side of the Moon is too dark to observe anything!

Maybe some day when humanity finally chooses to return to the Moon, we’ll get some answers. Just so long as we remember to bring a flashlight.

P.S.: Happy April 1st! No, there is no such thing as a “dark side of the Moon.” The side of the Moon facing away from Earth is properly called the “far side of the Moon,” and it gets just as much sunlight as the side facing us.

6 thoughts on “Sciency Words: Dark Side of the Moon

  1. You had me for a second. I thought this was a serious post at first. But you can still say something is “As mysterious as the dark side of the Moon” since it doesn’t exist. Also, wouldn’t the far side actually get more light than the near side, since both sides are cast in darkness when the Earth is between the Moon and Sun, but only the far side receives light during a solar eclipse?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t thought of that. Although during a lunar eclipse, you’ll notice the Moon turns red. That’s sunlight filtering through Earth’s atmosphere–the color of all the world’s sunrises and sunsets, as I once saw it poetically described. But that’s still a brief period of reduced light for the near side of the Moon.


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