Do people in the southern hemisphere view the moon as inverted compared to the northern hemisphere?

Yeah, strange question.

Imagine a person standing on the North Pole. He’s looking at the Moon.
Imagine a person standing on the South Pole. She’s looking at the Moon.

You would think that the Moon would be inverted for each person; but is it?

I don’t think it is, but I don’t know why it wouldn’t be. The reason I don’t think it is is due to my thought process. If these two individuals started walking towards the equator, at what point does the Moon flip? Right at the equator?

Help me understand this?

Do Australians see the Moon inverted from Canadians? I’m pretty sure they don’t but I can’t grasp the physics or perhaps the optics of it all.

Not sure about that , but I always thought the moon looked bigger by the equator.

By the North Pole and South Pole may look smaller.

As you go south from the North Pole (but facing the same direction), viewers will see the same appearance, but higher in the sky. Eventually, it will be so high in the sky that it will vanish over the observer’s head. At that point, they’ll need to turn around to see it, which is when it will “flip.” A person near the north pole lying on the ground with his head facing north will see the same thing as a person near the south pole (also with their head to the north) doing the same thing, assuming the moon is visible to both of them.

If this is hard to visualize, grab an orange, mark it up a bit, and look at it over the top and bottom of some other object. The orientation of the “moon” changes only if your orientation does.

Not only does the moon look upside-down in the southern hemisphere, but so do all the constellations (there’s quite a few visible in both hemispheres). Of course, to a southern hemispherian, it’s in the northern hemisphere where things look upside down.

Another thing that’s switched is which side of the moon is illuminated. When the moon is a crescent between new moon and first quarter, the right side of the moon is illuminated in the northern hemisphere, while it’s the left side in the southern.

Have a look at any of the sites that display current moon phases by city and choose a southern and northern city at much the same longitude:



As someone who has lived in both NZ and Canada I can confirm that the moon rotates in the sky. (About 90 degrees, as you’d expect from 45N to 45S.

The really interesting part is that you can see a “Man in the Moon” face at both orientations. shows the Northern Hemisphere orientation with a big white cheek. The Southern hemisphere moon has a big forehead.

Yes they do, in fact at school I remembered being taught the phases of the Moon by noting that it was C shaped when Crescent and D shaped when De-crescent, opposite to what I see now living in the Northern Hemisphere.

Obviously this means there is an intermediate state in between North and South, so near the equator the Moon is on its side, so to speak, with the illuminated/dark line nearly horizontal.

What a great question! It never, ever occured to me to wonder about that. And to find out the answer is yes, is even cooler.

Don’t read too much to into it.

Today the moon is a few hours ahead of the sun. So sometime near mid-day today go outside & lay on the ground with your head towards North & feet towards South. Look at the Moon. Now spin 180 degrees so your head is South & feet are North. Look at the Moon again. Oh my Gosh, it’s upside down!!!1!! You rotated the moon!!

No you didn’t. You rotated your head. That’s all that’s happening here.

If I told you that when standing and facing North then East is on your right, but if you face South then West is to your right, would you tell me that turning around somehow exchanges East for West? Same thing.

That’s true.

You have to understand that I have extremely poor spacial skills. It’s extraordinarily hard for me to reverse directions to go home, visualize a map in my head and give directions, reorient a map in my head (it’s pointing north but I need to go south) etc. I struggle telling left from right. I get lost very easily, even places I’ve gone lots of times.

So envisioning this is actually pretty hard for me and it seemed like a neat question.

I’m at 60 degrees North, the Moon is never so high in the sky that doing what you suggest wouldn’t feel like looking at part of the sky upside down. At 60 degrees South the other pole of the moon will be the one closest to the horizon and it will indeed be like the moon was upside down compared to what I’m used to.

I don’t know how far from the poles this is obvious, but at my latitude what you’re describing is akin to saying “I didn’t hang the picture upside down, just lie down with your head pointing towards it and look at it. See? It’s the right side up!”


Geo-gravitational orientation can have a big impact on how you perceive celestial objects overhead.

I hope I didn’t come across as a snarky jerk. My goal was education and putting the phenomenon in perspective. IOW, it isn’t about moving thousands of miles across the Earth to see the Moon from a different point of view. It’s simply about standing/sitting/lying in a different orientation.

And for somebody who’s spatially challenged that’s a big area of natural confusion.

No! You didn’t sound snarky at all. It was educating!


When actually shifting latitudes by so much, the moon appears upside down, yet still rises in the east.

IOW: It’s the orientation of the moon relative to the horizon that makes this an interesting phenomenon/illusion.

See, now I have a headache.


At first glance, this seemed like such a naive question to me. I’m humbled that I’m the one who’s naive and my ignorance has been fought and brought down to the mat today. I truly learned something. Thanks, Leaffan, for raising an interesting question I never thought about and thanks everyone else for your illuminating answers. I mean this sincerely, no snark intended.

˙ɹǝpun uʍop ʞooq ɐ ƃuᴉpɐǝɹ ʎɹʇ 'ǝɹǝɥdsᴉɯǝɥ uɹǝɥʇnos ǝɥʇ ɯoɹɟ ʎuunɟ sʞool uooɯ ǝɥʇ ʞuᴉɥʇ noʎ ɟI

I think seeing the sun move across the sky from right to left would take some getting used to.

What is interesting to me is that I would not notice the man in the moon orientation at all. Just if it was where it was not supposed to be. I am very good about my position in relation to the world, left, right, North, South stuff but when thinking about using land marks to determine that, if a mountain sometimes had snow on the top & other times it didn’t, it would not be something I would notice while determining where I was or which direction I am facing.

I wonder it this has anything to do with being in a 3D dimension a lot of the time? Flying, SCUBA diving, etc. I also am very good about being able to return to a place or remember if I was ever there or not.

Would that be more of a left brain, right brain thing or just what seems important to me? And what would incline me be that way?

Here’s a pic of the moon rising in NYC.

Here’s a pic of the moon rising in Sydney.

You can see the moon appears rotated relative to the horizon by almost 90°—the same degree shift in latitude between the two cities.