The moon’s four main phases – new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter – can occur at slightly different times and locations on Earth.
During these primary phases, the fraction of Moon that is illuminated gradually changes; two intermediate phases – crescent and gibbous – appear between these principal ones.
First Quarter Moon
At the first quarter phase of the Moon’s monthly cycle, half its disc is illuminated by sunlight – creating an effect similar to how half an apple has been cut in half by light from Earth’s Sun. For sky watchers on Earth this is an especially pleasant opportunity to get a glimpse of what life on its surface might look like; sky gazers from other planets might even get lucky enough to experience it themselves!
Many view the First Quarter Moon as an opportunity for self-evaluation and goal review. Take stock of how far you’ve come and ensure that you are on track toward reaching your objectives.
This interpretation fits seamlessly with the lunar “yang” phase, when we all strive to become stronger. Indeed, the first quarter moon symbolizes determination and focus — two “yang” qualities.
Moon quarters refers to four primary Moon phases – new moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter – which are separated by two intermediate Moon phases. At each moon quarter stage, an increasing fraction of its disk is illuminated as time progresses.
These changes are driven by the Moon’s orbit around Earth and its ecliptic longitude; phase shifts may also depend on where in the sky the Moon lies, impacting how its lit part appears on Earth.
Northern hemisphere residents will see the lit portion of the Moon begin to emerge on its right side; for those in southern hemisphere regions it will begin appearing on its left.
When in its waxing crescent or waxing gibbous phases, sunlight bends over the Moon’s surface in crescent- and gibbous shapes, while during these phases its edges bow outward in both directions.
The Moon is responsible for producing ocean tides on Earth through its gravitational pull. These tides, known as neaps during its first and third quarter orbital phases, often feature small differences between high and low tides during these times – it’s important to remain aware of them!
Waxing Gibbous Moon
The waxing gibbous moon marks the final stage before reaching Full Moon status. At this point in its cycle, only part of the Moon remains dark while most is illuminated by sunlight – creating an illusion that it appears bright and shiny.
Time after time, humans have used lunar phases to chart important milestones in our lives. Mystics, farmers, and midwives would consult moon signs when planning travel plans or planting crops or harvesting harvesting time.
Your right hand should be outstretched with its thumb out and palm facing sky, then make an “C” shape with it to indicate whether the moon is waxing or waning. If there is shadow from its left side on your palm, that indicates a waning Moon.
On the other hand, if you see shadowed parts of the Moon on your right hand it signals a waxing moon, with more illuminated areas and opportunities for creativity and finding solutions for old problems.
As an added benefit, this is also an ideal time to review your goals and examine what has been accomplished during the previous month. By doing this, you can adjust plans or change intentions for next month.
This final phase before Full Moon signifies the final steps before completion of any project or undertaking. You may feel an overwhelming urge to complete something or change course – don’t be intimidated if this urge arises and put in hard work in making that change possible!
The Waxing Gibbous phase is an opportunity to reflect upon what you’ve accomplished so far and where to go next in life. Take this time alone and focus on yourself; focus on personal growth and development during this phase.
The waning phase is an opportunity to examine what has transpired in your life and take stock of how it has changed for the better. Now is also a good time for self-care and rejuvenating before embarking on another lunar cycle.
Waxing Crescent Moon
The Waxing Crescent Moon marks the beginning of each lunar quarter and provides an ideal time to set new goals. Use this time of the moon cycle to start home improvement projects that have been neglected; start discussions with coworkers; or adopt your dream pup!
Astrologer Natalia Kuna describes this phase as one in which the moon is “rebuilding,” suggesting it as an opportunity to reflect and reconsider your goals in life, find inner peace and reconnect with yourself.
However, she stresses the importance of accepting what is out of our control and setting more achievable goals for yourself in the coming month.
Additionally, this phase allows for Earthshine – an earthshimmer-esque glow on the moon caused by sunlight reflecting off Earth – to be more easily observed during April and May.
Western Hemisphere residents will see the waxing crescent moon appear lower in the sky at sunset; in contrast, its appearance will occur later on in the Southern Hemisphere evening hours.
The Waxing Crescent phase culminates in a Full Moon. After this event, it takes approximately 29.5 days for the moon to return to its initial phase.
As seen from Earth, when the moon waxes its illuminated area increases while when it wanes it decreases.
How can you tell whether the moon is waxing or waning? Depending on where you reside, one simple way is to look up at sunset and observe whether or not its shape can be discerned.
Astrologically speaking, this month is also considered an ideal one for stargazing; with darker skies providing ample opportunity for greater celestial objects to be visible in the night sky. Furthermore, this time is an excellent chance to experiment with new techniques like binoculars or telescopes.
The moon goes through eight primary and eight secondary phases during its cycle, each lasting 3.4% of time. Of these phases, new moon, first quarter, and full moon are particularly prominent; however, other important stages play their part as well.
The Full Moon is one of the most widely celebrated lunar phases and is the only phase which fully illuminates all surface area of our moon. Typically this event happens once every month; any additional Full Moon seen within one calendar month is known as a blue moon.
Full moons occur when the Moon is approximately 180 degrees from Earth. As it moves closer to its closest point to the Sun (position 1) in its orbit (figure 1), its illuminated area increases exponentially, before gradually diminishing as it recedes back away from it and fades until finally becoming fully dark. Although there can be instances when maximum fullness does not quite reach 100% darkness levels, most likely during lunar eclipses when crossing the ecliptic at opposition with Sun.
Many cultures have long used moon cycles as a way to track time, with specific names for full moons based on climate or agriculture in a particular month. January’s full moon, known as “The Wolf Moon,” marks the first month of winter; March’s full moon is known as “Worm Moon”, marking its last full moon before spring arrives; while September’s full moon, commonly called “Harvest Moon”, usually falls around fall equinox when farmers can work into the evening hours.
Full moons have long been linked with “lunar lunacy,” an uncontrollable behavior associated with full moons that is thought to alter human nervous system molecules and affect behavior differently, potentially leading to out-of-control behaviour typically associated with werewolves and other wild creatures.
Research remains limited and without conclusive proof that full moons cause human behavior to change. Florida International University psychologist James Rotton, Colorado State University astronomer Roger Culver and University of Saskatchewan psychologist Ivan Kelly all studied this issue extensively without finding evidence of such an effect.