The relationship between the masses of the Earth, moon and sun and their distances to each other play critical roles in affecting tides. Click the image for a larger view. Gravity is one major force that creates tides. In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton explained that ocean tides result from the ...
An illustration of the moon causing Earth's ocean tides. Shutterstock. When teachers explain ocean tides, they frequently describe how the moon's gravity pulls on Earth and all of its water.
The moon's GRAVITY pulls Earth's water away from Earth Gravity attracts things, if an object has more mass, there will be more gravity. When the moon revolves around the Earth its gravity is just strong enough to pull the tides in the direction that is facing the moon. Since the moon still orbits around the Earth, different faces have different tides, so there are high tides and low tides.
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While both the Moon and the Sun influence the ocean tides, the Moon plays the biggest role because it is so much closer to our planet than the Sun. In fact, the tidal effect of the Moon on Earth is more than twice as strong as that of the Sun, even though the Sun's gravitational pull on Earth is around 178 times stronger than that of the Moon.
Does anything else affect tides? The sun causes tides just like the moon does, although they are somewhat smaller. When the earth, moon, and sun line up—which happens at times of full moon or new moon—the lunar and solar tides reinforce each other, leading to more extreme tides, called spring tides.
Because ocean tides are the effect of ocean water responding to a gravitational gradient, the moon plays a larger role in creating tides than does the sun. But the sun's gravitational gradient across the earth is significant and it does contribute to tides as well.
The moon is the principal cause of the tides on Earth; the secondary cause is the sun; other causes, especially planets in our solar system, have an almost insignificant effect. Note: due to varying density per altitude in atmosphere, the lunar tides are inefficient and they are replaced by solar tides.
Two tidal bulges are created on opposite sides of the Earth due to the moon's gravitational force and inertias counterbalance. Click the image for a larger view. The gravitational attraction between the Earth and the moon is strongest on the side of the Earth that happens to be facing the moon ...