Even though the sun is about 27 million times larger than the moon, at the end of the day the moon will always have a greater impact on our tides than the sun. So why is this the case? The sun may be significantly larger however it’s a lot farther away from Earth (about 390 times farther) than the moon is from Earth. Essentially this means that the sun’s impact on tides is about half that of the moon!
As the moon and the suns gravitational pull comes into play tidal bulges begin to form on opposite sides of the Earth due to gravity and inertia. Both a lunar and a solar tidal bulge will form. As the moon rotates around Earth and Earth rotates around the sun the angles of these tidal bulges change. These change in tidal bulge angles directly affect our tides.
The most extreme tides occur when the moon, Earth, and the sun are aligned with one another. These extreme tides are referred to as Spring Tides – this is when we will have very high high tides and very low low tides. More moderate tides occur when the moon, Earth, and sun are aligned in a 90 degree angle. These moderate tides are referred to as Neap Tides.
Written By: Alex Feltes