Why does the moon affect the tides?

We all know the moon. Sometimes we can see it in the sky. It appears in different shapes. A full moon is when it appears in the shape of a circle or ball. Now the Earth has a close relationship with the moon. So close that the moon is always trying to draw the things on our planet away from Earth and to the moon.

But almost everything on Earth remains in place except, in one way, the oceans. While the moon doesn’t pull the oceans from the Earth to the moon, it does make the water move. And that movement is called a tide.


Every day the tide changes twice. A high tide is when the water moves into the shore and a low tide is when the water moves out to sea or away from the shore.

Some tides are huge. They are so big that people can walk on the land which before was covered with water. The tide changes about every 12 hours. You can see pictures of boats lying or sitting on the sand. That’s because the tide has gone out. In a few hours the tide will come in and all those boats will soon be afloat again.

Tides are important for ships and especially for people who go fishing.


One basic law in science involves gravity. It’s a force which causes things to move. Take off your shoe and let it go. It will fall to the floor. That’s because of gravity.  Gravity pulls things in a certain direction. And gravity works in Outer Space too.

The Earth travels around the sun and the moon travels around the Earth. Gravity forces tug or pull at various things. The waves on the sea are caused by wind but the tides are caused by the gravitational tugging of the moon and the sun on our planet, Earth.

Special tides

Not all tides are the same. When the sun, moon and Earth are in a certain line, the gravity is really strong and this makes the tides rise a really long way. These big tides are called spring tides. But spring tides have nothing to do with Spring the season when the leaves bud on the trees and the temperatures start to get warmer.

The friendly moon

So next time you look at the night sky and see the moon shining back at you, remember that the sea levels in the oceans around the world will change because of the pull of gravity. The moon may look harmless and friendly but all the time it is tugging at Earth and helping create our tides.


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