The Moon orbits Earth, causing the portion of its illuminated side we see to change as it moves through different phases. During each phase, the visible area grows and decreases, until it reaches a full moon or a new moon.
The moon completes a cycle of phases once every 29.5 days. These cycles are referred to as synodic months.
Today’s moon phase is Waxing Crescent, which means that the crescent Moon is becoming illuminated by the Sun’s rays. At this stage of the cycle, only a small portion of the Moon’s disk is illuminated.
This is also the time that we can see the Moon’s “earthshine,” which is a result of Earth reflecting sunlight onto the Moon and back. This is especially visible in April and May.
The exact fraction of the Moon’s surface that is illuminated depends on its position in Earth’s orbit. That’s why we see a different part of the Moon’s disk during each phase, as it changes from a complete shadow at New Moon to a fully illuminated Full Moon.
The Moon phase today is First Quarter, which marks the time when the Moon has progressed one-quarter of the way through its monthly cycle and journey around the Earth. It rises around noon and sets around midnight, according to NASA, making this an excellent time to view the moon.
The symbol for the First Quarter in modern calendars is a circle split down the middle, with the right side white and the left side black. However, the actual Moon image on our Moon phase pages indicates more accurately which part of the moon is illuminated (although not perfectly).
The First Quarter phase lasts for a short period of time, usually lasting three nights. Then the Moon begins to brighten as it moves closer and closer to Full Moon. This is why many people see the First Quarter as a sign of strength and determination. It can also be a good time to make plans for new projects or embark on challenges.
If you’re looking up at the sky today, you should see the Full Moon – it rises in the east around sunset and sets around sunrise. You’ll likely also notice it’s getting higher and higher in the sky.
A Full Moon is the most illuminated phase of the moon and occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon are all in alignment (called syzygy). However, this is not always possible because the orbital path of the moon tilts about 5 degrees toward the earth.
Two or three times a year, the full moon coincides with the lunar nodes, which are the points where the moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic (the path of the Sun seen from Earth). When the Moon is near these lunar nodes, it passes through the shadow cast by the earth and produces a lunar eclipse.
The moon phase today is Last Quarter. It’s a funny phase, because it looks like an evening half-moon but flipped upside down.
The reason it’s called a quarter is because it’s three-quarters of the way through its orbit around Earth. It’s halfway to a New Moon, so you might see it at its fullest in the sky as it approaches this milestone.
It’s a transitional time and could be perfect for you to let go of unhelpful people or toxic relationships. This can make you feel stronger and lighter, while bringing new focus to your life.
The phase is also called Active and Responsible, meaning that it’s the time in the cycle to take closing action and follow-up on things begun at the New Moon. It’s a good time to let go of any negativity and refocus on your dreams.