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Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Universe Unriddled

Waxing and Waning Phases

Step into the enchanting world of the Moon’s waxing and waning phases, where lunar magic unfolds right before your eyes!

As the Moon takes center stage in the night sky, its ever-changing face captivates stargazers around the globe…

…prepare to embark on a cosmic journey through the crescent and gibbous moons, where the waxing and waning phases weave a mesmerizing lunar dance.

In this fascinating guide, we’ll delve into the intriguing world of moon phases, lunar calendars, and the Earth-Moon-Sun system that governs the celestial ballet.

Uncover the secrets of the waxing crescent, first quarter, and waxing gibbous as the Moon swells to full illumination.

Then, witness its graceful transformation through the waning gibbous, last quarter, and waning crescent, as it retreats to the shadows of a new moon.

Arm yourself with a moon phase chart and lunar cycle calendar as we explore the waxing and waning phases.

Master the art of observing and identifying the Moon’s shifting appearance in the sky, and unlock the mysteries of the lunar cycle.

Ready to embark on this thrilling adventure?

Let’s illuminate the night sky and unravel the captivating secrets of the waxing and waning Moon!

The Lunar Cycle: An Overview

The lunar cycle, a spellbinding celestial phenomenon, takes approximately 29.5 days to complete.

During this time, the Moon undergoes a series of transformations, influenced by its position in relation to the Earth and Sun.

Let’s take a quick peek at the various stages of the lunar cycle:

1. New Moon

2. Waxing Crescent

3. First Quarter

4. Waxing Gibbous

5. Full Moon

6. Waning Gibbous

7. Last Quarter

8. Waning Crescent

Now, let’s dive deeper into the enchanting world of waxing and waning phases.

Waxing Phases: The Growing Moon

As the Moon gradually reveals more of its illuminated side, it enters the waxing phase. This captivating progression includes three key stages:

Waxing Crescent

The waxing crescent appears shortly after the new moon, with only a slender sliver of light visible.

The crescent grows in size each night as more of the Moon’s surface is illuminated.

First Quarter

Also known as the half-moon, the first quarter showcases an equally illuminated and shadowed Moon.

At this stage, exactly 50% of the Moon’s surface is visible.

Waxing Gibbous

The waxing gibbous phase occurs as the Moon’s illumination continues to increase, with more than 50% of its surface visible.

The term “gibbous” refers to the Moon’s convex shape during this phase.

Here’s a table summarizing the waxing phases:

Waxing Crescent1-49%A slender crescent of light gradually growing larger
First Quarter50%Half of the Moon’s surface illuminated
Waxing Gibbous51-99%Convex shape with more than half the surface visible
summary of waxing phases

Waning Phases: The Shrinking Moon

As the Moon continues its journey, its illuminated surface begins to decrease, signaling the start of the waning phase.

This phase encompasses three stages:

Waning Gibbous

The waning gibbous phase commences immediately after the full moon. As the Moon’s illumination gradually reduces, its convex shape remains visible.

Last Quarter

During the last quarter, the Moon once again displays a half-illuminated appearance, with the other half shrouded in darkness.

Waning Crescent

In the final phase of the lunar cycle, the waning crescent presents a diminishing sliver of light as the Moon prepares to enter the new moon phase.

Here’s a table summarizing the waning phases:

Full Moon100%Entire Moon’s surface illuminated
Waning Gibbous99-51%Convex shape with more than half the surface visible, but gradually shrinking
Last Quarter50%Half of the Moon’s surface illuminated, opposite side from First Quarter
Waning Crescent49-1%A slender crescent of light gradually shrinking until it becomes a New Moon
summary of the moon waning phases

The Earth-Moon-Sun System and Moon Phases

The waxing and waning phases of the Moon result from the intricate dance between the Earth, Moon, and Sun.

The Moon’s position in relation to these celestial bodies determines the amount of sunlight that reflects off its surface, creating the mesmerizing phases we observe.

To explore this topic further, visit NASA’s Earth-Moon-Sun System page.

Observing Waxing and Waning Phases

To witness the bewitching beauty of the waxing and waning phases, all you need is a clear night sky and a keen eye.

However, tools like moon phase charts and lunar calendars can help you identify and track the Moon’s transformations with greater accuracy.

Here are a few resources to enhance your lunar observation experience:’s Moon Phase Calendar

MoonGiant’s Moon Phase Chart’s Interactive Moon Phase Tracker

Additionally, consider our blog post on the best binoculars for astronomy to optimize your stargazing and lunar observation experience.


The waxing and waning phases of the Moon are an enchanting spectacle that has captivated humankind for millennia.

By understanding the lunar cycle and its intricate dance with the Earth and Sun, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the celestial beauty that unfolds above us every night.

So, grab your binoculars, head outside, and immerse yourself in the captivating world of the waxing and waning Moon.

For further exploration into lunar phenomena, check out our blog post on lunar phases and eclipses.

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