Going Through The Various Monthly Moon Phases

The monthly moon phases or lunar phases of the moon are caused by reflected sunlight becoming visible as the moon orbits Earth and Earth orbits the Sun.

The Moon generates no light of its own, it simply reflects sunlight to us here on Earth. This is how we see the Moon.

Don't confuse this with an eclipse. An eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the shadow of Earth. This is a lunar eclispe and can occur only during a full moon.

A solar eclispe happens during the new moon when the Moon passes directly between the Sun and Earth.

Because the Moon's orbit around Earth is not on the same direct line as Earth's orbit about the Sun, the Moon is slightly above or below usually, major eclipses are rare. Although there are minor eclipses every year.

It takes about 27.3 days for the Moon to orbit the Earth. That is from one point in the sky to return to that same point in the sky.

Because the Earth is also orbiting the Sun it takes about 29.5 days for the Moon to complete a phase cycle from one phase to the same phase again(from new moon to new moon, or full moon to full moon, for example).

The 8 Phases Of The Moon

The eight monthly moon phases are:

New Moon-A new moon occurs when the Moon moves to the same side of the Earth and is close to the Sun. Rising and setting close to the Sun the Moon is not visible at night.

This is a great time for the backyard stargazer, with no moonlight to wash out the nighttime sky.

Waxing Cresent-The waxing cresent appears a few days after the new moon as the Moon moves away from the Sun and becomes visible again.

First Quarter-This phase shows half of the Moon. First quarter occurs about a week after the new moon phase.

Waxing Gibbous-The waxing gibbous is heading toward the full moon as almost all of the visible portion of the Moon is lit.

Full Moon-The big, bright full moon happens as the Moon and Sun are on opposite sides of Earth. Full illumination of the Moon's surface happens and last all night.

Waning Gibbous-The waning gibbous shows almost all of the Moon like the waxing gibbous as the Moon moves away from full.

Last Quarter-The last quarter shows the opposite half of the Moon from the first quarter. This occurs about 3 weeks after the new moon.

Waning Cresent-The waning cresent shows the sliver of moon opposite the waxing cresent as the new moon approaches.

The waxing moon means that the light is growing. The Moon is heading towards the full phase.

The waning moon is the opposite. The light is shrinking as the Moon heads from full towards the new phase.

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