We may have noticed that the moon looks different at different times. Some nights, the moon appears like a narrow crescent. Other nights, the Moon turns into a bright circle. And another night you may be able to discover that the moon totally disappeared. Most of the time you may have noticed the full circle moon. The moon decreasing and changing in its ever-changing cycle from the new moon to the full moon and back again. Different shapes of the moon are called the moon’s phases.
How do the moon’s phases happen?:
We are already familiar with this moon fact that the moon does not produce its own light. The moon’s light is the reflecting light from the sun. The lunar cycle happens partly because of this reflecting light that comes from the sun. the silvery glow we see comes from sunlight reflecting off the moon’s monochrome surface. We can also add that our view of the moon is administered by a gravitational quirk called tidal locking.
One more question may come to your head, why do we always see the one side of the moon? As the earth and the moon both spinning in their own orbit. It is true that the moon and the earth are both spinning in their own orbit but the moon’s spin is different from the earth. The fact about the moon is, it has been showing the same side around the earth. Another moon fact is there is no perpetual night on the moon. Because either side gets illuminated because the moon orbits.
Like the moon, Earth, and therefore the sun bear their orbital dance, the part of the moon that’s illuminated by sunlight moves in and out of our view, creating a predictable series of moon’s phases. In any given month we see eight distinct moon’s phases, defined by what quantity of the lunar disk is illuminated from our perspective and whether the moon is heading toward or removed from being full.
Let’s know about the 8 phases of the moon.
1- New moon’s phases:
The beginning segment of the moon’s phases is called the new moon. This is the primary phase of the moon and it occurs when the Sun and Moon are on the same line of the earth. Imagine what will happen when the Sun, Moon, and Earth come in a single line. The Sunlight will reflect the moon’s opposite side which one we can not see from the earth and that’s why the new moon becomes nearly invisible in the night sky. We will be able to see this moon if the solar eclipse occurs. We can say strictly that the disk of the moon we are looking at is dark because the moon is between the sun and Earth.
2- Waxing Crescent Moon:
The moment a skinny sliver of the Moon becomes visible after a new phase of the moon is that the beginning of the primary intermediate phase, the Waxing Crescent Moon. In the new moon phase, this wont to be called the phase of the moon while the darkest phase was called the Dark Moon. This traditional definition of the latest Moon continues to be in use in some cultures, defining the start of the months as an example within the Islamic calendar. The remainder of the Moon is additionally sometimes faintly visible during most of this phase because Earth also reflects sunlight onto the Moon. This phenomenon is named earthshine or carver glow, and it’s most noticeable in April and May.
3- First Quarter Moon:
The second primary moon phase is called the “First Quarter Moon”. People call this phase “First Quarter Moon” because at this segment the moon phase is a quarter of the way completed. This moon’s phase is also called the half-moon as we can see half of the moon’s surface illuminated. Which phase you can be able to see depends on your location. That’s why some people may be able to see the left half side and others might see the right side illuminated. At this stage, the moon is illuminated by the sun and the percentage of the lit surface continuously increasing. The first quarter moon’s phase happens when the western half of the moon is illuminated and that’s why it looks almost the letter “D” shape. At this phase, the moon rises at the noon and sets at almost midnight.
4- Waxing Gibbous Moon:
Before explaining this phase I would like to describe a fact about this moon phase. Waxing means increasing or growing but the word gibbous comes from the Latin word “Hump” which means rounded or convex shape. This word has been using as a rounded or convex shape over centuries. The waxing Gibbous Moon is the second intermediate stage among the moon’s phases. This stage is larger than the first quarter (Second primary phase) but smaller than the full circle moon. We can say that when the moon is bigger than a half-full moon and continue its increasing process until becoming the full moon is called a waxing gibbous moon.
5- Full Moon’s phases:
When the sun and the moon are aligned on opposite sides of the earth is called the full moon. Because we see the 100% view of the moon. At this phase, the sunlight reflects directly to the moon. The full moon happens every 29.5 days or so. The full moon remains visible all night long. What would the full moon be like during the day? Basically, this direction is short-lived. However, the Moon may appear the full day before or after more than 98% of the Moon’s disk is illuminated. Another interesting fact about the moon is when a full moon phase infrequently passes through the Earth’s shadow, it will cause a lunar eclipse. You may hear the Supermoon or Micro moon name, mainly when the full moon appears to the points of its orbit that are close or far away from the Earth is called the Supermoon.
6- Waning Gibbous Moon:
We already know that the word waxing means increasing. Waning is the opposite word of waxing. The word waning means decreasing. During this time the visible half of the illuminated moon decreases.
7- Third or Final quarter Moon:
This phase is the opposite phase of the first quarter moon. It occurs when the moon is Half illuminated in the sky, this phase also gestures when the lunar phase is 3/4 portion of the way completed. At this phase, the moon rises at midnight and sets at noon.
8- Waning Crescent Moon:
The Waning Crescent phase is the final stage of the lunar cycle. This phase starts when the sunlit less than half of the moon and continues this method until the new moon phase. At this stage, we can see the effect of “Earthshine”, the same effect we see during the new moon phase. When the moon and the sunrise are at the same time then this phase ends. This time the moon looks like almost the latter “C”.