Waxing gibbous: more than half-lit, less than full
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. Take a look at Meiying Lee’s illustration above to see the change in the angle and color of the waxing gibbous moon, as it’s visible from afternoon until after midnight. The moon at this phase is easy to see in the daytime because, at waxing gibbous moon, a respectably large fraction of the moon’s dayside faces our way.
Views of the waxing gibbous moon
Read about the moon’s phases
As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Follow these links to understand the various phases of the moon.
Bottom line: A waxing gibbous moon is in the sky when darkness falls. It lights up the early evening. It appears more than half lighted, but less than full. A waxing gibbous moon comes between first quarter moon and full moon.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Prior to that, she had worked for the University of Texas McDonald Observatory since 1976, and created and produced their Star Date radio series. 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. In 2020, she won the Education Prize from the American Astronomical Society, the largest organization of professional astronomers in North America. 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.
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