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.
As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Follow these links to understand the various phases of the moon.
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
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.