This guide simplifies the various phases of the moon. It clarifies the basic science and mythology behind the phases of our lunar partner.
Our modern culture largely ignores our closest celestial partner. But we cannot deny the impact this lunar satellite has on our planet. Its gravitational pull affects the tides of the oceans and even lakes to a smaller extent. It provides indirect light at night and several methods for measuring time.
Types of Moon Phases
The most obvious question to ask is what causes these different phases or cycles? We can see our lunar partner because it reflects sunlight. Sometimes we only see a partial reflection because the Earth gets in the way. The Sun, Moon, and Earth are in an intricate cosmic dance that gives us the changing phases of our lunar satellite, the moon. See, that’s easy.
Measuring Different Types of Moon Phases
- Draconic = 27.212220815 days
- Tropical = 27.321582252 days
- Sidereal = 27.321661554 day
- Anomalistic = 27.554549886 days
- Synodic = 29.530588861 days
The full moon and the new moon are the easiest points to recognize. When it is full, you see it as a round orb in the sky. When the moon is new, it is invisible to the naked eye. We’re not sure why they call it a new moon when you can’t see it at all.
From the full moon, when it gets smaller, we know this as “waning”, and so it takes 14 days for our lunar partner to disappear. This is the point of the new moon. Some people consider the full moon as part of this waning cycle, and some see it as the completion of the waxing cycle.
Waxing means to increase, there are approximately 14 days in the waxing cycle. When it is partially visible, either waxing or waning, they call this being “gibbous,” or less than a full circle.
The adjective gibbous is from the Latin noun gibbous, which means hump or humpbacked. In the 14th Century, the English began using the term to describe something less than a full circle. How it got from meaning hump or bulging to less than half a circle is a mystery, I guess they just liked the sound of the word.
Organizing the Different Types of Moon Phases
How Can You Use This Information?
- Use this formation to the most out of stargazing. The best time is close to the new moon.
- To see a variety of moths, the best time is around the full moon.
- Create a ritual to honor your ancestors on a specific moon phase.
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