Moon Phases

Current Moon Phase
Visual magnitude:-12.3Size:0° 30' 14.8"Illumination:98.8%Age:15.7 days

Waning Gibbous

The sixth phase of the lunar cycle; occurs between the Full Moon and the last quarter Moon. The waning phases represent the Moon becoming less illuminated, so at the beginning of this phase, we see an almost fully illuminated lunar disk, and then the illuminated area slowly shrinks until the last quarter phase.

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Check today’s Moon phase with our 2024 Moon Phase Calculator. You can see what the Moon looks like tonight and every day of the month! We highlight the four main lunar phases: New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter Moon, along with when they occur. You'll also know the percentage of the Moon’s illumination and its age for each day. This Moon calendar is conveniently set to YOUR local time, meaning you can start using it immediately without having to adjust it. Plus, you can check Moon phases from as far back as 1600 or look ahead all the way to 2400.

Contents

April-May 2024 Moon phases and dates

  • Last Quarter Moon: April 2
  • New Moon: April 8
  • First Quarter Moon: April 15
  • Full Moon: April 23
  • Last Quarter Moon: May 1
  • New Moon: May 8
  • First Quarter Moon: May 15
  • Full Moon: May 23
  • Last Quarter Moon: May 30

Related links:

What are the Moon phases?

The Moon is a spherical object, and it's consistently half-illuminated by the Sun in space. Yet, as the Moon travels around the Earth, its appearance in our sky is constantly changing. The different Moon phases show us how much of the Moon's illuminated side we can see from the Earth’s perspective at a given time.

Moon in space
In space, the Moon revolves around the Earth. On the Earth, we see different Moon phases that repeat as the Moon repeats its orbit.

All the Moon phases in order

There are eight traditionally recognized Moon phases. The four major phases are the Full Moon, New Moon, First Quarter, and Last Quarter. In between, there are four minor ones: the Waxing Crescent, Waxing Gibbous, Waning Gibbous, and Waning Crescent. The major Moon phases mark specific moments, while the minor phases span about 7.4 days, with the lunar appearance changing gradually throughout this period.

Moon phases
The Moon has 4 major phases (Full Moon, New Moon, First Quarter, and Last Quarter) and 4 minor ones (Waxing Crescent, Waxing Gibbous, Waning Gibbous, and Waning Crescent).

New Moon

During the New Moon phase, the Moon is positioned between the Earth and the Sun and rises together with the Sun. The Moon's side facing the Earth is not illuminated, so it is dark and cannot be observed. When the New Moon aligns precisely with the Sun and Earth, a solar eclipse occurs.

Waxing Crescent

After the New Moon, a small portion of the lunar disc becomes visible, forming a crescent shape. This phase marks the beginning of the Moon's waxing (growing) period. The illuminated portion of the Moon increases each night.

First Quarter

The First Quarter phase is reached when the Moon has completed one quarter of its orbit around the Earth. During this phase, half of the lunar disc is lit up; that’s why it is also known as the Half Moon. At this point, the Moon is positioned 90 degrees away from the Sun in the sky.

Waxing Gibbous

Following the First Quarter, more than half of the lunar disc receives sunlight, but it’s not fully illuminated yet. The illuminated portion continues to grow, making the Moon appear larger night after night.

Full Moon

The Full Moon occurs when the Earth is positioned between the Moon and the Sun, and the entire lunar disc is illuminated by the Sun. When the Full Moon aligns precisely with the Sun and Earth, a lunar eclipse occurs. The Full Moon rises right after sunset and is visible throughout the night. It is the opposite of the New Moon and is the brightest and most noticeable phase. Learn more about the Full Moons and their traditional monthly names in our Full Moon calendar.

Waning Gibbous

After the Full Moon, the illuminated portion of the lunar disc begins to decrease. In the Waning Gibbous phase, more than half of the Moon is still visible, but it gradually gets smaller each night.

Last Quarter

Similar to the First Quarter, half of the lunar disc is visible from Earth during the Last Quarter (or the Third Quarter) phase. However, during this phase, the other half of the Moon is illuminated. The Moon is positioned 90 degrees away from the Sun in the sky.

Waning Crescent

The final phase, the Waning Crescent, occurs just before the New Moon. In this phase, only a tiny crescent-shaped portion of the Moon is visible, and it continues to shrink until it becomes the New Moon once again.

What is the Moon cycle?

The Moon cycle is one revolution of the Moon in its orbit around the Earth. During the Moon cycle, we see different phases of the Moon, and they repeat as the Moon repeats its orbit around the Earth. It takes about 29.5 days for the Moon to complete its orbit.

The lunar cycle from New Moon to New Moon is also called a synodic month or lunation.

Moon age

The term "Moon age" typically refers to the number of days that have passed since the last New Moon. It is a way to describe where the Moon is in its lunar cycle.

For example, on the day of the New Moon, the Moon's age is 0 days because it's just beginning its cycle. Since the lunar cycle from New Moon to New Moon lasts 29.5 days, the 29-day-old Moon is the Moon one day before the New Moon.

When will the Moon be visible tonight?

The free astronomy app Sky Tonight can help you find the exact moonrise and moonset times for your location, the Moon’s position in the sky, and more. Scroll through the "Moon" tab in the app's calendar, find the Moon with the search to learn more about it, or find our natural satellite on the sky map and use the time machine to learn where it is located at any given time.

Moon in Sky Tonight
In the Sky Tonight app, you can find out the Moon’s location in your sky at any given time, learn about its characteristics, moonset and moonrise times, interesting lunar events, and more.

What is the best time to see the Moon?

Here are some tips for you to get the most out of observing the Moon:

  • The Full Moon is the most exciting phase to observe with the naked eye. It's bright and large and can sometimes appear in unusual colors. However, the Full Moon is not the best phase for close observations because the sunlight falls directly on our natural satellite, leaving no shadows and contrast. Also, the Moon’s light washes out most celestial objects, making stargazing more difficult.

  • The Waning and Waxing Crescent phases are the best times to observe the lunar landscape through a telescope because the long shadows and pronounced terminator line reveal surface details such as craters and mountains. The Moon appears in a three-dimensional perspective.

Moon terminator
During the crescent phases, you can observe mountains, craters, and valleys near the pronounced lunar terminator.
  • Around the First Quarter phase, the Moon is well-seen in the evening hours. This makes it a convenient phase for observations.

  • Around the Last Quarter phase, the Moon can be observed in the morning. At this time, the shadows on the Moon are at their longest, and the Earth's atmosphere is at its clearest, allowing the finer details of the lunar surface to be observed.

  • The New Moon phase is perfect for stargazing because when the Moon's disc vanishes, the night sky becomes notably darker. This darkness makes it possible to observe faint celestial objects that can be difficult to see in a moonlit sky.

Overall, each lunar phase has unique traits. Explore each phase and create your own experience!

Which Moon phase is best for stargazing?

While the best phases for viewing the Moon are the First Quarter and Last Quarter, the best lunar phase for night sky observations is the New Moon. During the New Moon, our natural satellite appears as a darkened disc in the sky, invisible to the naked eye; it also rises and sets with the Sun. So the sky is dark and free of moonlight all night.

Don't be upset if you didn't get a chance for observations during the New Moon — during the crescent phase, the sky is also dark enough. Besides, you can choose the time when the Moon is under the horizon or observe the part of the sky far from the Moon. The same tip applies to observations during the First Quarter or Last Quarter Moon, when the lunar disk appears half-lit.

As the lunar phase changes, so does the brightness of our natural satellite (but not in the way you might think). The Full Moon is six times brighter than a half-illuminated Moon. Interestingly, even three nights before a Full Moon, the lunar disc is only half as bright as during a Full Moon.

P.S. Here is a tip for observing the night sky during a Full Moon — simply hide this bright light source behind something (like a tree) so that its light does not shine directly on your surroundings. Do you know any other observation hacks? Take our quiz to test your skills!

F.A.Q.

How many Moon phases are there?

There are four major lunar phases (Full Moon, New Moon, First Quarter, and Last Quarter) and four minor phases in between (Waxing Crescent, Waxing Gibbous, Waning Gibbous, and Waning Crescent).

Why do we see different phases of the Moon?

We see different phases of the Moon because of its changing position relative to the Earth and the Sun. The Moon doesn't emit its own light; it reflects sunlight. As it orbits the Earth, the angle between the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun changes, and we see more or less of the Moon's lit-up side.

Why do we only see one side of the Moon?

We always see one side of the Moon because the Moon rotates exactly once on its axis each time it completes one orbit around the Earth – a phenomenon known as "tidal locking" or "synchronous rotation." By the way, the far side of the Moon isn’t actually "dark," it receives just as much sunlight as the side that Earthlings can see.

Moon synchronous rotation
The Moon rotates once for each revolution around the Earth – that’s why we always see only one side of our natural satellite. Note that this is a schematic image. If you were looking at the Moon's orbit from above, you would actually see the Earth's and the Moon's poles.

Do the phases of the Moon affect the tides?

The Moon phases affect the height of the tides. During the Full Moon and New Moon phases, the Moon, the Sun, and the Earth line up, and the Sun’s gravitational pull is "added" to the Moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth. As a result, high tides are a little higher, and low tides are a little lower. During the First and Last Quarter phases, the Sun pulls against the Moon's gravitational pull, making the tides moderate: high tides are a little lower, and low tides are a little higher. See how the lunar tides work in our short video.

How long does each Moon phase last?

Technically, the four major phases (New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, Last Quarter) are actually very brief moments, even though they might appear to last a day or two to the naked eye. The remaining time is divided among the four intermediate phases (Waxing Crescent, Waxing Gibbous, Waning Crescent, Waning Gibbous). With the Moon's cycle lasting approximately 29.5 days, each of these additional phases spans around 7.4 days.

How do I know if the Moon is waxing or waning?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Moon illuminated on the right is waxing, while the Moon illuminated on the left is waning. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the other way around. Also, the waxing Moon rises in the daytime and sets at night, while the waning Moon rises at night and sets in the daytime. Near the equator, the Moon appears to be "on its side," so the waxing lunar disk is illuminated on the bottom in the Northern Hemisphere and on the top in the Southern Hemisphere.

When does the Moon rise tonight?

Moonrise and moonset times depend on the current phase of the Moon, your location, and your time zone. You can find the exact rise and set times and other important information about our natural satellite in the stargazing app Sky Tonight.

Phases of the Moon: the key takeaway

The Moon goes through four major and four minor lunar phases in its 29.5-day lunar cycle. In this calendar, you can find the Moon's phase, age, illumination, and more for each day. If you want to know the exact setting and rising time and the position of the Moon in the sky for any given moment – get the Sky Tonight app.