In today’s world, each and everyone is quite aware of the fact that the Moon is the Natural Satellite of the Earth. And we also know that the Sun lits the Moon as well as planet Earth. How the moon orbits and casts a full moon and new moon, and other moon phases; of course, from our earthly point of view is known as 8 Phases of the Moon or 8 Lunar Phases of the Moon.
In other words, every day we observe the changing phases of the moon from new moon to full moon to new moon is scientifically known as the 8 lunar phases of the moon. In general, you can say that the phase from a full moon to a new moon to a full moon is called the Eight Phases Of Moon.
On the other hand, if I talk about the fact that how long is a lunar month? I would say that the moon revolves around the Earth in approx 29.62 days which is also known as Luna Month or simply a lunar month.
While revolving around the Earth, only half of the Moon’s surface gets illuminated by the Sunlight because of the Astronomical Phenomena known as the Synchronous Rotation or Tidal Locking, making day and night on the Moon.
What causes the phases of the moon?
In my view, questions like what causes the phases of the moon? Or, why do moon phases occur is quite simple to answer? The 8 phases of the moon around the earth occur mainly due to the following reasons:
- The Moon orbits around the Earth.
- Earth and Moon orbits around the Sun.
- The Sun lits or illuminates both Earth and Moon because both of them reflect light from the Sun.
- The 8 Lunar Phases of the Moon are produced due to the alignment of Sun and moon in the sky.
- Half of the Moon facing the Sun is illuminated. On the other hand, the other half of the moon facing away from the Sun is always in the darkness. This happens due to the astronomical phenomena known as Synchronous Rotation or Tidal Locking. That’s why we only get to see one side of the moon forever.
8 Phases of the Moon in Order
In the first place, 8 Phases of the Moon are cyclic starting from the new moon to the full moon to the new moon in approx 29.62 days. All of these 8 phases of the moon occur at a specific location on the Moon’s Orbit.
Technically speaking, a lunar month can be divided into two groups i.e Primary phases of the moon and secondary phases of the moon.
In the primary phase, there are 4 phases of the moon. These are New Moon, First Quarter Moon, Full Moon, Last Quarter Moon.
Similarly, in secondary phases of the moon, there are Waxing Crescent Moon, Waxing Gibbous Moon, Waning Gibbous Moon, and Waning Crescent Moon.
Now, let’s get to know each phase of the moon in order with their respective names
New Moon (0% illuminated)
What do we call the moon phase when the moon is not visible at all because it is in between the sun and the earth? Well, it’s a New Moon Day.
In other words, the first phase of the moon is called New Moon Lunar Phase. The new moon is also known as Amavasya. Or, simply you can say, a new moon in Hindi is called Amavasya.
During a new moon day, the side of the moon facing Earth is not illuminated by the sunlight due to the alignment between the sun and the moon. Only on a New Moon Day, a Solar Eclipse can occur.
Waxing Crescent Moon (0 to 50% illuminated)
What is the name given to the phase of the moon in which the moon is barely visible? Well, it’s a waxing crescent phase of the moon.
From a new moon to a full moon, the moon appears to grow larger as the days go by. This process is called the Waxing of a moon.
Meaning, the lunar shape of the moon is waxing or growing into its crescent phase. That’s why we call this phase of the moon a Waxing Crescent Moon. This lunar phase is also known as a Young Moon or simply Full Crescent Moon.
Sometimes during the waxing crescent phase of the moon; the rest of the moon is also faintly visible because of the reflection of sunlight from the earth to the Moon. This astronomical phenomenon is known as Earthshine.
First Quarter Moon (50% illuminated)
When the moon is changing from a crescent moon to a full moon, what do we get in between? In other words, What phase of the moon would be visible 7 days after a new moon? Well, it’s a 1st Quarter Moon Phase.
The third phase of the moon is called the First Quarter Moon. The first quarter means that the moon is one-fourth of the way through the lunar cycle. Hence the name “First Quarter Moon”. The First Quarter moon always occurs one week after the new moon lunar phase.
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Sometimes, it is also called Half Moon. Simply because we see exactly half (right side) of the illuminated portion of the Moon’s Lunar Surface.
Waxing Gibbous Moon (50 to 100% illuminated)
What lunar phase occurs when more than half of the moon – but less than a full moon – appears in the sky? Let me rephrase it differently. What word describes the moon when it’s between half and a full moon?
ANY GUESS…!!! A moon phase between half moon and a full moon is undoubtedly known as the waxing gibbous moon. A waxing gibbous moon phase is the fourth phase of the moon.
The Waxing Gibbous Moon always occurs between the first quarter moon and full moon day. In other words, you can say that the waxing gibbous moon refers to the moon when it’s more than half but not full.
Full Moon (100% illuminated)
The fifth phase of the moon is called the full Moon. A full moon day is a lunar phase when the moon is illuminated or lightened completely by the sunlight.
On the other hand, can you guess that full moon night occurs after how many days of the occurrence of the new moon lunar phase?
The Moon takes almost 15 days to reach from the new moon to the full moon. Well, technically, not 15 days, but 14. 81 days. Only on a full moon, a lunar eclipse can occur.
The Full Moon always occurs when the moon is totally on the opposite side of the earth. On full moon day, the moon looks like a complete circle.
Waning Gibbous Moon (100 to 50% illuminated)
So, what follows a full moon? The moon phase that follows the full moon is known as The Waning Gibbous Moon. As the name suggests, it’s one of the first moon phases when the moon gets smaller and smaller.
In other words, the lunar shape of the moon starts to decrease, or simply, the moon is waning. The waning gibbous moon is also the sixth lunar phase of the moon.
A waning gibbous moon is also regarded as the reverse of the waxing gibbous moon. The waning gibbous moon always occurs between the full moon phase and the third quarter moon phase.
Third Quarter Moon (50% illuminated)
The seventh phase of the moon is called the Third Quarter Moon. A third-quarter moon is visible just after the waning gibbous moon. After the waning gibbous, it’s the next moon phase when the moon gets smaller and smaller.
Third-quarter means the moon is three-fourths of the way through the lunar cycle. Hence the name “Third Quarter Moon”.
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This lunar phase is also regarded as the reverse of the first quarter moon. That’s why sometimes it is also called Half Moon. Simply because we see exactly half (left side) of the illuminated portion of the lunar surface.
Waning Crescent Moon (50 to 0% illuminated)
The eighth and last phase of the moon is called the Waning Crescent Moon. The phase of the moon that follows the waning-crescent phase is New Moon Day.
In other words, the last lunar phase of the moon before returning to the new moon phase is known as the waning crescent moon.
When the bright part of the moon is getting smaller, the lunar shape of the moon is waning or decreasing into its crescent phase; which we call A Waning Crescent Moon.
By the end of the 29.62 days Lunar Month Cycle, the moon will vanish entirely. Therefore, we will be back to the new moon to start again the ever-repeating Lunar Month Cycle.
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