What are the Moon Phases?
The Moon phases calendar tells us the cycle of the moon, from a new moon to a full moon and back again. The phases of the moon depend on whether it is illuminated or not by the sun. Partial shadow obscures the light which falls onto one side of the Moon. The shadows cast by an irregular lunar surface result in strange and fantastic shapes. The different phases we will talk about briefly are the New Moon, Full Moon, the 1 quarter Moon and hit on waning and waxing so you know what is going on in the sky at all times.
A new moon is the time when it is between the earth and the sun. It's too dark to see, but it's shape can be seen with a telescope because the sunlight reflects off of it towards us. A crescent looks like a thin slice or part of a circle. The best time to see its crescent shape is when the moon is low on the western horizon, just after sunset.A new moon occurs when the Moon is directly between Earth and the Sun, with Earth in between them. This means that the side that we can see is completely dark because we are not seeing sunlight reflect off of it.
'New Moon' can be the beginning of something new, but you don't know how it will end up like a new relationship, or a new job. This is a good time to schedule "new" things. Starting off on a good note can really give it that extra boost of luck you need.
A first quarter Moon happens when the sun is directly behind Earth, so half of the moon's face appears lit up. Because of this, we can see about 50% of the visible surface area that is exposed to us on Earth. The name 'first quarter' means that we are a quarter of the way through the original cycle, or about 3/4 of the way down (since it's a quarter and not halfway).
A first quarter moon is a half circle and looks like a semicircle. The best time to see it is an hour or so after sunset because at that time we are seeing it as it would look in profile with one side illuminated by the sun.
Waning and Waxing
A waning gibbous moon is about half of a circle. We can see that it's getting smaller each night because its not completely round. A waning moon is when the moon gets smaller and smaller each night because it's moving away from us. But instead of one side always being lit like a full moon, we can see some parts of the dark side at the end of the night. The best time to see it is after midnight when it's high in the sky.
A waxing gibbous moon is when the Moon gets larger and larger each night because it's getting closer to us. It's about three-fourths of a circle, which means that only one side will be completely lit up by the Sun as seen from Earth.
A full moon occurs when the Moon is directly opposite the Sun, with Earth in between. This means that the side of the moon facing us will be completely bright because we are seeing sunlight reflect off of it. Full moons occur at a specific time of day and on a specific date. A full moon is when the sun shines on the whole side facing us. The best time to see it is an hour or so after sunset, but this time it's not low on the horizon-it's high in the sky.