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Moon in a waning gibbous phase

Full moon has come and gone. Now the moon is rising later at night. Watch for a daytime moon in the west in early morning in the next few days.

It still looks almost full, but the moon was slightly past full when Peter Lowenstein caught it on the morning of January 13, 2017 in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

The first full moon of 2017 was on January 12. Last quarter moon will come on January 19 at 22:13 UTC. (Translate to your time zone here). So now – and in the coming few days – the moon appears as less than full but more than half lighted. Astronomers call it a waning gibbous moon.

Where is it? It’s rising later each evening. A waning gibbous moon sails over the eastern horizon in the hours between sunset and midnight. Because it comes up relatively 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.

Waning gibbous moonrise behind the Empire State Building in New York City – January 13, 2017 – via a composite of 10 images spaced 4 minutes apart. Notice the low lying clouds partially hiding the moon when it was low in the sky. Image by Gowrishankar Lakshminarayanan.

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

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