Covering the Basics: Moon Phases Explained

Name your favorite Moon phase! Go! If you were to ask us, we literally could not decide a favorite. We love them all. We know that many people are familiar with most phases, if we did a poll, we know that many of our Moonbabes would be able to recognize several phases. But being able to distinguish them in the night sky? Well, that’s a little trickier. 

If you love the Moon but haven’t yet taken the time to learn your phases, then there’s no better time than right now! We are breaking down the basics to help you know and remember the difference been the phases, knowing the waning gibbous from the waxing crescent. It’s important to always be learning and expanding our minds and what better way to do that than to educate yourself about the lovely Luna?

First things first, the lunar cycle lasts for 29.5 days, which basically means that it takes the Moon just under 30 days to make a full orbit around the Earth. As the Moon is moving around us, the Sun will be at different angles lighting up the brilliant white; and creating the various phases we see. 

According to NASA, the Moon travels roughly about 237 612 miles (382 400 kilometers) each month, but this number varies when we have Super moons for example. As the Moon is waxing and waning and even disappearing from our eyes for a short period of time, it moves through 8 phases. Let’s go through each phase and see if we can help you remember their order and eventually be able to recognize the phases in the night sky. 

New Moon

“No Moon” actually means the beginning of the lunar cycle. When the Moon is directly between the Earth and the Sun, the human eye is not able to detect its presence and so in the night sky, you miss the Moon. Did you know that to represent this phase in our jewelry we use a brilliant blue Moon? If your special date falls on a New Moon phase you get to rock a bright blue, or if you’re looking for a pop of color then be sure to find a New Moon date! 

 

Waxing – White of the Moon is on the RIGHT

3 phases are included in the waxing of the Moon; technically we see more and more of the brilliant white of the Moon as it makes its way to being Full. 

Waxing Crescent 

A sliver, a slice, a small crescent peeking out on the right side of the lunar face that we see. We get the first glimpse of the Moon in this phase as the Sun is just starting to reilluminate. 

First Quarter

Not to be confused with a quarter of a cake, the second phase of the Moon is when we see a half-illuminated and half-dark Moon. If you are a little confused by this then read our First Quarter Lunar Personality blog post to learn a bit more about why this phase is called a quarter when it’s really a half! 

Waxing Gibbous

From the halfway point to the finish line – that is if the finish line is the Full Moon. This phase is the final phase before we get to gawk and the Moon in its full glory! And remember, because it is waxing, the illumination will be moving from the right to the left. 

Full Moon 

At this point of the lunar cycle, we have the Sun, the Earth and on the opposite side the Moon. A perfect and bright lunar disc is enchanting. Did you know that when the Moon is exactly full it rises at the very moment that the Sunsets in the Western Sky? 

Waning– White of the Moon is on the LEFT

We have another 3 phases during the waning portion of the lunar cycle. This is where each night we see less and less of the Moon as it slowly fades into darkness. These phases appear in opposite order compared to what we see before the Full Moon during waxing. 

Waning Gibbous

Following the Full Moon, as we see less and less, we have the waning gibbous phase that occurs following the full Moon and the ending with the third quarter, with the white part being on the left now, instead of the right. 

Third Quarter

Again we have a half-lit Moon, but this time instead of being half-lit on the right side we will see a half-lit Moon on the left side. 

Waning Crescent 

The last few glimpses of the Moon, if you have seen any versions of Alice in Wonderland and you remember the big cat with the pretty creepy smile, then you should have no problem remember this phase – it looks like a big smile! 

The waning crescent then leads into the next New Moon, where we see darkness in the sky before that ever so small amount of Moon is lit again by the Sun and the next lunar cycle begins! 

What do you think Moonbabes? If we gave you a quiz based on the phases do you think you could remember them all in order?