How Many Moon Phases Are There?

how many moon phases are there

The Moon goes through a series of phases each month, changing our view of it based on its position in relation to Earth and the sun. Each phase shows us different fractions of the illuminated part of the moon’s disk as seen from Earth.

The New Moon is 0 percent illuminated; First Quarter is essentially 50 percent illuminated (half of the disk is lit); Full Moon is 100 percent illuminated and Last Quarter is back to essentially 50 percent illumination.

New Moon

The Moon goes through a series of phases that change our view of it based on its position in relation to Earth and the Sun. This is called lunar libration and it happens because of the Moon’s eccentric orbit.

As the Moon’s libration causes the illumination of different parts of its surface, it changes its appearance from night to night. It goes through the banana-shaped crescent phase, the D-shaped quarter phase and the almost complete gibbous phase, which is a good time to see Earthshine.

Each phase of the Moon occurs at a different time, depending on where you live. The times are solar time, not clock time, which means they’ll be a bit later or earlier than what you may see on a calendar.

The four principal (primary) phases are New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter. There are also intervals between these phases, where the Moon’s apparent shape is either crescent or gibbous.

First Quarter

The First Quarter is the first of four phases that the Moon goes through over the course of a cycle. It is also the most interesting because we can see a lot more of the Moon’s surface than during any other phase.

When the First Quarter happens, the Moon is 50% illuminated compared to the previous two phases – Waxing Crescent and Waxing Gibbous – and grows brighter each day until the Full Moon.

During this phase the Moon appears as a gleaming circle in the sky when the Sun, Earth and Moon are all aligned in perfect alignment with one another. It is a great time to meditate and set intentions for the month ahead.

The First Quarter is an active and impetuous phase that is about putting the past behind, seeking individuality and taking the first steps toward your goals. It is also a good time to practice love magic and inner love spells, as well as working with the healing energy around you.

Full Moon

There are four main phases of the moon: new Moon, first quarter, full Moon and last quarter. These occur when the Moon is at different ‘perches’ in its orbit around the Earth.

Each phase takes a different length of time to pass through the sky, given the Moon’s 29.5 day orbit. This is why the dates and times for the Moon’s phases change each month, called a synodic month.

For example, the date of a new Moon is on the same day every month, but a Full Moon can appear either the night before or the evening after it. This happens because the Sun, Earth and Moon are at different ‘perches’ on Earth – a little off-kilter – by about 5 degrees from each other.

In addition to these ‘waxing’ and ‘waning’ phases, the Moon also goes through an ‘eclipse’ twice a year, when it passes behind the Earth and becomes partially or fully illuminated by the Sun, creating a solar or lunar eclipse. However, these are rare events.

Last Quarter

The full cycle of the moon phases (New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, Waning Crescent, and Waning Gibbous) takes about 29.5 days.

The Last Quarter phase occurs a week after a full Moon and is the last of the waning phases, when half the Moon’s surface is illuminated while the other half is in darkness. This happens because the Moon’s sides are moving in opposite directions around the Earth.

Your location on the Earth determines which side of the Moon is illuminated during this stage – for those in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the left side; for those in the Southern Hemisphere, the right side. Then the illumination slowly diminishes until the entire disk is in darkness – at which point it becomes the new Moon phase and another lunar cycle begins.

This is a good time to think about the three-dimensional world in space that you are observing. The lighted portion of the Moon points directly downward to the sun above your feet, while the dark portion of the Moon is a mirror of the nightside of Earth.

Waxing Crescent

Astronomers have broken down the moon’s cycle into four primary phases, occurring at a certain moment in time, and four secondary phases that represent a span of time, not a specific moment.

New Moon, First Quarter and Full Moon are the major phases, while Waxing Crescent and Waning Gibbous represent the intermediate stages of the lunar cycle. As the moon orbits around Earth, it grows in illumination (waxes).

According to astrologer and medium Natalia Kuna, the waxing crescent phase is a time of action as the moon transitions from dark to the first sliver of light. This is a great opportunity for change and renewal, especially for those who are looking to break free of past experiences.

When the moon is in the waxing crescent phase, you can see it rising in the morning, reaching its height around dusk and setting around midnight. For the waning gibbous and third quarter phases, you’ll have to turn yourself upside down so that you’re seeing the illuminated portion of the moon on your left side.

Waxing Gibbous

A waxing gibbous moon is one that is partway between a first quarter and full moon. It is named because the illuminated portion appears to be increasing during this phase, with more than half (50.1% to 99.9%) of the disk covered by sunlight already.

In addition, this is the phase in which the terminator (the line dividing the lit and unlit areas of the lunar disc) moves steadily across the surface. You can use this time to see some interesting features of the Moon, such as craters and lunar maria.

The moon goes through eight phases throughout its cycle, each one relating to a different season of the year. Each phase has its own meaning, and some are more powerful than others.

The Waxing Gibbous is the phase of the Moon before the full moon, and it symbolizes “final steps.” People born during this Moon phase are highly predisposed to be caring and nurturing, so they can help you take on your final projects with confidence and excitement.

Waning Crescent

The Moon cycles around the Earth, passing through a series of phases that create an effect on the Sun’s light. Astronomers have broken the cycle down into four primary phases, which occur at specific times no matter where you are on Earth, and four secondary phases, which reflect a span of time, not a specific moment.

For the first two phases, New Moon and First Quarter, the illuminated area of the moon changes. It increases as the Moon progresses through its waxing stage, and decreases as the Moon transitions into waning.

This cycle repeats itself about every month, but it can be confusing to figure out which moon phase you are in at any given time. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help you identify the right moon phase for you.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, look for a crescent shape with the dark part on the left side and the illuminated part on the right side. In the Southern Hemisphere, look for a curved sickle shape with the dark part on the right side and the illuminated part on the left side.

Waning Gibbous

The Moon is an important part of many cultures throughout history, often revered as a feminine deity and counterpoint to a Sun god. As it moves through its eight phases, it has shaped the rhythm of human life and ascribed meaning to our existence.

There are four primary moon phases, each lasting about a month, and four intermediate moon phases that last longer than the primary ones. They serve as transition periods, according to astronomer Laura Woods.

For example, the First Quarter phase is an intermediary moon phase between a Full Moon and a Third Quarter. It is named for the fact that it marks one-quarter of the way through a lunar cycle, when the Moon has traveled more than half the distance along its orbit around Earth.

This phase occurs right after a Full Moon and lasts until the Third Quarter. During this stage, only about 50% of the Moon’s surface is illuminated (left side in the Northern Hemisphere, and right side in the Southern Hemisphere).

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