Understanding How The Moon Phases Come About


Without the sun the moon would always be dark and inward. With her varied reflections of the sun comes balance. Balance between the quiet introspective times and the outward active times.

It is interesting to think about the fact that it does not matter where the moon is in the sky but rather where she is in relationship to the sun. Because of this people all around the world will be experiencing the same moon phase at the same time. Although half of the moon is always lit up by the sun, from our perspective here on earth the moon is ever changing.

When the sun and moon rise and set together we cannot see the moon’s face. She is traveling between us and the sun so nothing is reflected toward the earth. We think of this as the dark moon. As she waxes (increases) to a half moon she is coming up about 6 hours after the sun so only half of her reflection can be seen from our earth. But at full moon time she is traveling opposite the sun
and we see her full reflection. Then as she wanes (gets smaller) we see less and less of her reflection until we see none at all at the time of the dark or new moon.

Each day the moon rises about an hour later as it will travel its complete cycle in about 29 1/2 days. Knowing this can help us know were to look for her each day. For example one day after the full moon look for her to come up about an hour after the sun goes down.

This information on the individual phases is a repeat from what is written with each moon phase, but I thought it would be helpful to see it all together.


We consider it to be the new moon up to 3 1/2 days after the official new moon. She rises around dawn, sets around sunset.

Because she is between the sun and the earth nothing or very little is reflected and for a few days the moon is lost in the brilliance of the sun.

As the sun and moon are on the same side of the earth the pull on us is the strongest. Because the sun, moon and earth are all in a straight line this creates a time when the high tide is higher and the low tide is lower than usual.


The waxing crescent moon occurs 3 1/2 to 7 days after the new moon. She rises in the mid morning and sets in the evening.

The moons light is quickening. As the moon has dropped back until she is about 1/8 th of the way behind the sun and we see her lumination as a crescent shape.


You will see the first quarter moon from 7 to 10 1/2 days after the new moon. She will rise around noon and set around midnight.

As the moon is at a right angle to the sun the difference between high and low tide is minimized. Because light and dark are in balance the moon will appear to be a half moon but the area of light will continue to grow each day.


The waxing gibbous moon occurs between 10 1/2 and 14 days after the new moon. She rises sometime in the mid afternoon and sets in the early dark hours of the morning.

As the moon has fallen back around 3/8 of the way behind the sun one side of the moon is seen fully, the light on the other side bulges out but does not yet fill all of the moon’s face.


About 15 days after the after the new moon the full moon first appears. At this point the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun so she rises around sunset and sets around dawn.

The sun shines fully on her face and tides are at their extremes again. Some may sense the pull of the sun from one direction and the moon from the opposite and their energy and will feel a bit scattered.


The waning gibbous or disseminating moon appears 3 1/2 days to 7 days after the full moon. The moon will rise during the evening and set sometime mid morning.

Again we see the bulge on one side of the moon but it is now decreasing each day. Darkness is slowly moving in. Waning is underway.


The waning last quarter moon appears between 7 and 10 1/2 days after the full moon. She rises near midnight and sets near noon.

Because of the return to a right angle between the sun and moon the variation between tides is at its low again. There is once again a balance between light and dark but the dark will soon overcome the light.


The Waning crescent or balsamic moon occurs between 10 1/2 days after the full moon up until the new moon. The moon rises in the dark hours of the morning and sets in the afternoon.

Again we see the moon as a beautiful crescent but it is rapidly diminishing into darkness. Preparing for another 27 1/2 day lunar cycle.