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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.

Maggie Langley caught this photo in June, 2016 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. She wrote:

Maggie Langley caught a waning gibbous moon on June 24, 2016 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. She wrote: “Watching the moon tonight, we were drawn to the unusual oval shape.”

Full moon was June 20, 2016, the night of the solstice. Last quarter moon will come on June 27 at 1819 UTC (translate to your time zone here). So the moon now appears as less than full but more than half lighted. Astronomers call it a waning gibbous moon.

Where is it? It’s rising late at night. A waning gibbous moon sails over the eastern horizon in the hours between sunset and midnight. Because it comes up late at night, the waning gibbous moon prompts people to start asking

Where is the moon? I looked for it last night and couldn’t find it.

If you can’t find the moon tonight, just stay up a little later. It’ll rise in the east, eventually.

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 after sunrise - seen in the west on the morning of June 22, 2016 - via our friend Lunar 101 Moon Book on Facebook.

Waning gibbous moon after sunrise – seen in the west on the morning of June 22, 2016 – via our friend Lunar 101 Moon Book on Facebook.

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 2016: Phases, cycles, eclipses, supermoons and more

Deborah Byrd

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