Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

211,923 subscribers and counting ...


Where is the moon? Last quarter

Fun time to see a last quarter moon: just after it rises, shortly after midnight. Then the lighted portion points downward, to the sun below your feet.

Waning gibbous moon just after midnight on the morning of June 23, 2016 by Deirdre Horan of Dublin, Ireland.

Where’s the moon? Waning gibbous

Look for the waning gibbous moon late at night. It might look strangely oblong. Or look for it in the west in early morning, floating against the pale blue sky.

Last year's June full moon by Anthony Lynch Photography in Dublin, Ireland.

What’s special about a full moon?

You know it when you see it, but what makes a full moon full?

Waxing gibbous moon, rising - June 15, 2016 - caught by Tonia Coleman-Klein in Atlanta, Georgia.  Thanks, Tonia!

Where’s the moon? Waxing gibbous

You might notice a waxing gibbous moon in the afternoon in the next few days. It’ll be ascending in the east as the sun is descending in the west.

Karl Diefenderfer caught a first quarter moon at sunset on June 12, 2016. "Such a lucky shot," he wrote.  Thanks, Karl!

Where’s the moon? First quarter

A first quarter moon rises at noon and is high overhead at sunset. It sets around midnight.

Nearly first quarter moon on the evening of June 11, 2016. The moon reached the first quarter phase on June 12, 2016 at 0810 UTC, or 3:10 a.m. CDT.  Translate to your timezone.

Quarter moon or a half moon?

Half the moon always faces us. And half the moon is always lit by the sun. But, in the language of astronomers, there are no ‘half moons.’

You can tell that Niko Powe lives at a northerly latitude because his photo of the waxing crescent moon - captured June 6, 2016 - descends from left to right. At temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, the evening crescent moon sets from right to left. Thanks, Niko!

Where’s the moon? Waxing crescent

When you see the moon as a slim crescent in the west after sunset, it’s always waxing. Is that Earth’s shadow on the moon? No, it’s the moon’s own shadow.


Where’s the moon? New phase

On the day of new moon, the moon rises when the sun rises. It sets when the sun sets. It crosses the sky with the sun during the day.


Where’s the moon? Waning crescent

A waning crescent moon is sometimes called an old moon. It’s seen in the east before dawn.

Full moon over Dallas via Ben Zavala.

Four keys to understanding moon phases

Why does the moon seem to change its shape every night? Remember that the moon is a world in space with a day side and a night side.

As the Moon orbits Earth, its changing geometry with respect to the Sun produces the characteristic phases. This composite image is a mosaic made from 25 individual photos of the Moon and illustrates its phases over one synodic month. For complete details about this image, see Moon Phases Mosaic. The individual images included in this composite can be found in the Moon Phases Gallery. For more composites, see Moon Phases Mosaics. Photo copyright 2012 by Fred Espenak.

Moon in 2016

Pretty much everything you want to know about the moon in 2016 – including phases, cycles, eclipses and supermoons – from world-renowned astronomer Fred Espenak.

Photo credit: Robbo-Man

What is earthshine?

That glow over the unlit part of a crescent moon – called earthshine – is light reflected from Earth.

New record for youngest moon via Thierry Legault

Today in science: The youngest moon

On this date a year ago, an astrophotographer in France captured an amazing photo of the moon at the precise instant of new moon.