The Moon

Full moon

A full moon is visible from around sunset to sunrise.
It rises in the east around sunset, when the sun is setting in the west.
The side of the moon facing Earth is fully illuminated by the sun. It sets early in the morning as the sun rises.

A full moon occurs when the sun and moon are close to opposite sides of the Earth. The moon moves around the Earth once a month, and only when we are directly between the sun and the moon can we see the entire half of the moon that is lit by the sun.

Lunar Month: A Repeating Cycle

In western culture, we divide the lunar month into four primary and four intermediate Moon phases.

The Moon phases start with the invisible New Moon, while the first visible phase is the thin sliver of a Waxing Crescent Moon. Around a week later, half of the Moon’s surface is illuminated while the other half is in darkness at First Quarter Moon.

The illuminated part continues to grow into a Waxing Gibbous Moon, until 14 to 15 days into the cycle, we see the entire face of the Moon lit up at Full Moon.

The illuminated part then gradually shrinks into a Waning Gibbous Moon, and when it reaches the Third Quarter, the opposite half from the First Quarter is illuminated. From there, it fades into a Waning Crescent Moon. Finally, the Moon disappears entirely from view into another New Moon phase, only to reemerge and repeat this cycle.