Moon phases Live science

The phases of the moon are one of the most famous scenes in the night sky. Every month we see our lonely satellite grow and disappear through a series of shapes, taking it from the inevitable full month all the way to a tiny fraction of the crescent, which briefly disappears completely from view, and then returns to fullness.

What are the phases of the moon?

Growing crescent.  December 8, 2017 NASA Goddard.

This is what is known as a rising crescent. (Image courtesy: NASA Goddard)

We say the moon is “new” when light from the moon does not reach the Earth. Over time, we begin to see more and more of this and say the moon is rising. First we see the rising crescent, and then the so-called “first quarter of the moon.” It’s a bit of a confusing name because it actually appears as a dimly lit moon in the night sky. But if you think about it, the Moon can be divided into four quarters: two on the side of the Moon facing us, and then two on the side facing away from the Earth. During the first quarter of the month, sky watchers see the quarter whole The moon is shining.

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