How Many Moon Phases Can Be Recognized?

how many moon phases can be recognized

As the Moon orbits Earth, we see varying fractions of its lighted face, or day side. This is called the Moon phase.

Astronomers recognize four primary phases and four intermediate phases. The primary phases are New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Last Quarter.

New Moon

In astronomy, the moon can be recognized by its phases, which change as it orbits Earth. There are eight lunar phases that are recognized in modern astrology.

The new moon phase is the first in the lunar cycle and can be recognized by a thin crescent of the moon that appears in the west shortly after sunset.

Traditionally, this is a time to reflect and set intentions for the coming month. It is also a time for letting go of what is no longer serving you and welcoming in new beginnings.

First Quarter

The First Quarter Moon occurs halfway between new moon and full moon. It is often referred to as a “half moon” because the disk of the moon appears half-illuminated from Earth.

During this phase, the Moon will rise around noon and set around midnight local time. It is the mirror opposite of the third quarter moon, also known as the last quarter.

Full Moon

For thousands of years, humans have used the phases of the moon to keep track of time. The cycles of the moon repeat about once every 29.5 days, or a synodic month.

The Full Moon occurs when the satellite’s lit side is symmetrically facing Earth, opposite its dark side. It rises almost exactly at sunset and stays visible all night and sets as the sun rises in the next morning.

Generally speaking, the Full Moon is brightest and most powerful of all the moon phases, which makes it great for magic and meditations involving psychic development, spirituality and divination. It can also be a great time to focus on major issues and challenges you’re dealing with.

Last Quarter

As it orbits Earth, the moon changes phases in an orderly fashion. There are four main moon phases – new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter – which occur every month.

The first phase, called new moon, occurs when the Sun and the Moon are in a straight line with Earth. The other three phases, first quarter, full moon and last quarter, occur when the Moon is at a right angle with the Sun from our perspective on Earth.

At this phase, the left half of the moon appears to be illuminated by sunlight while the right side is immersed in shadow. It’s one of the most fascinating phases to observe with a telescope.

Waxing Crescent

In the Waxing Crescent phase, less than half of the Moon is illuminated. The illuminated area gradually increases until it reaches Full Moon, when the full Moon portion is illuminated.

If you were born under a waxing crescent moon, you’re likely to be an adventurous, joyful and curious individual. You also have a strong desire to connect with others, guide them and inspire them to reach new heights in life.

Waxing Gibbous

If you look up at the night sky, you’ll notice that the moon has a few different phases. One of them is called the Waxing Gibbous.

This phase occurs between a first quarter and full moon. It’s a crescent moon that is progressively getting fatter and illuminated by the sun’s rays.

This phase is easy to spot, as the same area of the moon is illuminated – but which side you see depends on your location, the date and time! The moon can appear to be lit up on the bottom, top, left or right.

Waning Waxing

The Moon goes through a series of phases as it orbits Earth. During a phase, a portion of its surface becomes illuminated by the Sun and later changes shape.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the shadow part of the Moon faces the Earth and is a waxing crescent. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite side of the Moon is a waning crescent.

The moon’s phases cycle through eight different appearances until the next new moon, completing a cycle of 29.5 days average duration. This is called a lunar cycle, or synodic month.

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