How Does the Moon Cause Tides

The moon may seem like an inanimate object in our night sky that does not affect down on earth. When moongazing, we can often overlook the effects it has on us down on earth. It comes as a big surprise to some that the earth is kept stable because of the moon. A bigger surprise is that the moon affects our seas, but how does the moon cause tides.

The moon causes both high and low tides. The gravitational pull of the moon on earth causes a bulge in the earth called a tidal force. This causes the water in our seas to rise and fall depending on the moon’s sky position and the earth’s ration in accordance with the earth’s bulge.

Ok, so the moon causes tides, but how does the moon cause tides now? Let’s explain how and different tides the moon causes over the lunar phases.

Does the moon control the tides?

Yes, the gravitational pull of the moon on earth causes the earth to bulge in its shape. Intern, the earth rotates, causing a centrifugal force. There are two bulges in the earth, and every time the earth rotates past each bulge, there will be a high tide. When the earth is not in one of the two bulges, there will be a low tide.

During each day, there will be two low and two high tides that occur each day.

Tides are all down to gravity, and the moons pull on the earth. Even though the moon size compared to earth is much smaller, it still has a dramatic effect due to our earth’s close proximity. The gravitational pull even moves the land, but we can’t feel it due to the effect being minimum. However, the gravitational force on water has a greater impact than we can see due to the ease of moving water.

Land on earth prevents the sea from being perfectly pulled towards the moons gravitational pull. This causes different size tides and tides being dramatically different depending on where you are in the world. Some places will only ever get small tides even on a high tide. Were other places would get very high tides even on a low tide.

Why are tides higher during a full moon?

Gravitational pull has a more significant effect when two objects come closer together. The moons gravitational pull is more meaningful when it’s closer to earth. When a full moon accurses, it’s at its closest position to earth. When all these components happen, we will get a high tide due to the higher gravitational pull.

What are the 4 types of Tides?

There are four different tides Diurnal Tides, Spring Tides, Neap Tides, and Other Tides. All four accrue when the moon earth and the sun are in certain positions which we explain below.

Diurnal Tides are the most common tide that moves from low tide to high tide and back again; these accrue once every lunar day.

Spring Tides are when the sun and the earth are in a straight line. Spring tides occur around once every two weeks. The spring tide is all often referred to as the King tide.

Neap Tides accrue when the moon is in the first and third quarters. The gravitational pull from the sun is at the right angle; this results in a neap tide. These neap tides accrue every two weeks. Neap tides are when the water level is at their lowest point during a high or low tide.

Flood Tide or Flood Currents These types of tides happen when the sea flows out or returns.

Where is the biggest tide in the world?

The biggest tide in the world can be found in Canada; to find the world’s biggest tide, you need to get to the Bay of Fundy in Canada.

The USA’s biggest tide is in Anchorage, Alaska, and can rise as high as 40 feet.

What is lowest tide called?

The lowest tides are called neap tides, and they are tides that are lower than the average size. Neap tides happen twice a month when the first and last quarter moon phase occurs. When the sun and moon are at right angles from each other is how the planets will aline for the neap tide.

What is the highest high tide called?

The highest tides are called spring tides; these accrue when the moon, sun, and earth are inline. Spring tides accrue every two weeks during a new or full moon.


So next time you look up into the night sky you will know that the moon has a bigger effect on us than we may have first believed. If you live inland you will know there is a high tide occurring when you see a full moon.

The moon is a lot more interesting than first meets the eye with thousands of lunar surface features that are still being discovered.

If you are thinking of getting a telescope for moon viewing you will have a lot more knowledge when you view it.