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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.

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

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

A waxing gibbous moon appears high in the east at sunset. It’s more than half-lighted, but less than full.

That’s another way of saying that a waxing gibbous moon phase falls between a first quarter moon and a full moon. Next full moon comes June 20, 2016, at 1102 UTC (6:02 a.m. CDT; translate to your timezone), same day as the upcoming June solstice.

Relative to a new moon – which is more or less between the Earth and sun, located near the sun along our line of sight – a waxing gibbous moon has moved in its orbit so that it’s now relatively far from the sun in our sky.

A waxing gibbous moon rises during the hours between noon and sunset. It sets in the wee hours after midnight.

Read more: June solstice full moon in 2016

Tom Stirling in Kennebunk, Maine, calls this photo Sea of Serenity. He caught the waxing gibbous moon from his driveway on June 15, 2016.

Tom Stirling in Kennebunk, Maine, calls this photo Sea of Serenity. He caught the waxing gibbous moon from his driveway on June 15, 2016.

People often see a waxing gibbous moon in the afternoon, shortly after moonrise, while it’s ascending in the east as the sun is descending in the west. It’s easy to see a waxing gibbous moon in the daytime because, at this phase of the moon, a large fraction of the moon’s day side is facing our way.

Thus a waxing gibbous moon is more noticeable in the sky than a crescent moon, with only a slim fraction of the lunar day side visible. Also, a waxing gibbous moon is far from the sun on the sky’s dome, so the sun’s glare isn’t hiding it from view.

Any moon that appears more than half lighted but less than full is called a gibbous moon. The word gibbous comes from a root word that means hump-backed. A gibbous moon can also be a waning gibbous, in the week between full moon and last quarter moon.

Ken Christison caught the  waxing gibbous moon just as it was leaving the first quarter phase, on June 14, 2016.  Thank you, Ken.

Ken Christison caught the waxing gibbous moon just as it was leaving the first quarter phase, on June 14, 2016. Thank you, Ken.

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

Understanding Moon Phases
Waxing Crescent
First Quarter
Waxing Gibbous
Full Moon
Waning Gibbous
Last Quarter
Waning Crescent
New Moon

Deborah Byrd

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