What is a waning gibbous moon?

The waning gibbous moon falls between full and last quarter. See it best from late night through early morning.

Ilija Desic caught a waning gibbous moon with seagulls in Belgrade, Serbia.

Between full and last quarter moon, late at night or in the early morning, you may see the moon in its waning gibbous phase: less than full but more than half-lighted. A full moon rises just at sunset. A waning gibbous moon rises later at night and appears in the morning sky.

A waning gibbous moon 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.

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Wonderful photo of a waning gibbous moonrise over Toronto, via our friend Lunar 101-Moon Book.

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.

Jenney Disimon caught this daytime moon – a waning gibbous moon, 94.7% illuminated – from Sabah, North Borneo.

Bulging white moon in blue sky over orange-red flowers.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Peter Lowenstein caught the early morning waning gibbous moon from Mutare, Zimbabwe, on May 11, 2020. He said: “Three quarters of an hour after sunrise the daytime waning gibbous moon was photographed descending towards the top of a flowering African tulip (Spathodia campanulta) tree on Murambi Heights.”

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

New moon
Waxing crescent moon
First quarter moon
Waxing gibbous moon
Full moon
Waning gibbous moon
Last quarter moon
Waning crescent moon

Read more: 4 keys to understanding moon phases

Bottom line: See the waning gibbous moon between the full and last quarter phases. It’s best viewed from late night through early morning.

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Deborah Byrd