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What is a waxing gibbous moon?

A waxing gibbous moon appears more than half lighted, but less than full. It rises before sundown and sets somewhere between midnight and dawn. The coming full moon – Hunter’s Moon for the Northern Hemisphere – is October 24.

A waxing gibbous moon from Odilon Simões Corrêa in Brazil.

You’ll see a waxing gibbous moon between a first quarter moon and full moon. The word gibbous comes from a root word that means hump-backed.

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 respectably large fraction of the moon’s dayside faces our way.

Read more: Full Hunter’s Moon on October 24

Point of interest on a waxing gibbous moon: Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows) surrounded by the Jura Mountains. Photo via Lunar 101-Moon Book in Toronto, Canada.

As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Follow these links to understand the various 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: A waxing gibbous moon comes between first quarter moon and full moon. It appears more than half illuminated, but less than full. The next full moon – Hunter’s Moon for the northern hemisphere – will be October 24, 2018.

Check out EarthSky’s guide to the bright planets.

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Deborah Byrd

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