Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

248,216 subscribers and counting ...

Where’s the moon? Waning gibbous

Watch for the moon late at night now, or before dawn. Last quarter moon will come on March 20, the same date as the equinox.

This morning’s waning gibbous moon – March 15, 2017 – near Jupiter. Photo by Deirdre Horan in Dublin, Ireland. More photos of this week’s moon and Jupiter, here.

Are you looking for the moon and not finding it? That’s because the moon is now in a waning gibbous phase: less than full but more than half-lighted. It’s rising later at night and appearing in the predawn sky. Last quarter moon will come on March 20, 2017 at 15:58 UTC. (Translate to your time zone here).

This year, the March last quarter moon falls on the same date as the March equinox. You may recall that two years ago it was the new moon that fell on the equinox, to stage a total eclipse of the sun on March 20, 2015.

What can I say about a waning gibbous moon? Only that it can surprise you if you happen to be out late in the evening. It rises eerily some hours after sunset, glowing red like a full moon when it’s near the horizon.

Sometimes it looks like a misshapen clone of a full moon.

Also, a waning gibbous moon also initiates a rash of questions about seeing the moon during the day. If it rises late at night, you know the waning gibbous moon must set after sunrise.

In fact, in the few days after full moon, you’ll often see the waning gibbous moon in the west in early morning, floating against the pale blue sky.

Waning gibbous moon on July 23, 2016 by Patricia Evans. She wrote:

A waning gibbous moon is visible in the west, in the morning. Patricia Evans captured this photo and wrote: “I am always fascinated to see the moon against blue sky! My Dad used to say, ‘Oh look… they forgot to put the moon away.'”

As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Follow these links to understand the various phases of the moon.

Four keys to understanding moon phases

Where’s the moon? Waxing crescent
Where’s the moon? First quarter
Where’s the moon? Waxing gibbous
What’s special about a full moon?
Where’s the moon? Waning gibbous
Where’s the moon? Last quarter
Where’s the moon? Waning crescent
Where’s the moon? New phase

Moon in 2017: Phases, cycles, eclipses, supermoons and more

Deborah Byrd