Observers on Earth can see the illuminated portion of the Moon change from one phase to the next. This process can be expressed quantitatively using areas or angles, or described qualitatively with the terminology of the four major and four minor phases.
As the Moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. As the moon moves around Earth, it illuminates half of its surface and reflects sunlight off of the other half, creating different shapes in the sky as it goes through the different phases.
This process makes it possible for us to observe the moon in a variety of ways. It also affects the tides on Earth.
The new moon is a time of introspection, when we can reflect on the past month and plant seeds for the future. It is a great time to set clear intentions for the month ahead, clarify your goals and start new projects.
Aside from being a lovely time to relax and enjoy some self-care, the new moon is also a time for rituals that honor the changing cycles of nature. These may be as simple as making a crystal grid or as elaborate as setting up a space for a meditation.
First Quarter Moon
It’s also a good time to start working on relationships. The first quarter moon tends to be a little rebellious, so if you’re in a relationship that’s been on the rocks in recent times, try to get a clean break and start fresh.
This is a great time to start focusing on creativity, but you’ll need to plan carefully. Make sure you’re ready for the first few steps and don’t jump into anything if you’re not totally confident about it.
The moon has phases that change our perception of it based on its position in relation to the Earth and the sun. The phases are New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Last Quarter.
When the moon is overhead, its gravity causes Earth’s atmosphere to bulge toward it, causing air parcels on that side of the planet to rise in pressure. This is a big reason why the full moon looks so much bigger and brighter than the rest of the sky.
It also causes the temperature of air parcels to increase. This is because warmer air can hold more moisture than colder air.
The illuminated area of the Moon varies from 0% at the New Moon, to 50 percent at the First Quarter, to 100 percent at the Full Moon, and back to essentially 50 percent at the Last Quarter phase. Percent illumination is listed in the Moon Phase Calendar under the Moon symbol, and it shows how much of the Moon’s disk is lit from the sky as seen from Earth.
Last Quarter Moon
The moon has phases, and the last quarter moon happens around one week after a full moon. During this phase, the moon appears to be half-lit, but the other side is still lit by the sun, making it appear like a half-slice of lemon in the sky.
Astronomers call this phase the ‘last quarter’ because it is three-quarters of the way through the 29.5-day lunar cycle. The moon has been receding from the Earth over time, and this is causing it to ‘wane’ as astronomers describe it, which means that its illuminated side is getting thinner and thinner as it nears its next new moon.
This waning period can be a perfect time to release unwanted or unhelpful people from your life, or remove yourself from toxic relationships. You may even find that you feel lighter and stronger during this period, which is good if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or stuck.