The Moon in the sky

You can recognize the current moon phase by looking at the shape of the moon in the sky. In the southern hemisphere, when the moon is shaped as the letter C, and visible just after sunset in the western sky, it is increasing in light, growing or 'waxing' towards full phase.

If you see the moon in the afternoon and the shape is near a capital letter D, the moon is waning, decreasing in light (from the left side). Each of the four main phases is about seven days. On any day of the month, the phase can also be determined by the time of moon rise and set.

1) New Moon - Waxing Crescent - 1st quarter phase or half moon

The new moon rises and sets with the Sun. The Moon travels close to the sun and not visible until 'she' separates ahead of the sun. Depending on the exact time of day of the New Moon, usually 12 – 24 hours later, the moon is visible as a sliver in the western sky about an hour after sunset. In the next 5 –7 days the moon sets an hour later each night. The suns reflected light on the moon increases daily to crescent then half-moon, know as First Quarter.

2) First Quarter- Waxing Gibbous – just before Full Moon

Following the progressively later moonrise and set about an hour after the Sun each day.  At 1st Quarter, has a half moon shape, then each day the growing moon increases in light while waxing to Full phase. From 1st quarter /waxing half moon phase, the Moon is visible in the afternoons as moon rises at midday and sets about midnight.

3) Full Moon phase –Waning Gibbous - to last quarter

Now the Moon rises at sunset, in the zodiac terms, the moon is directly opposite the sun and receives full illumination from the sun. After sun set the moon shines brightly all night, and sets around sunrise; then each day thereafter sets about an hour later, now decreasing in light, to the shape of the letter "D", and known as Last Quarter or half moon waning.

4) Last quarter- Waning Crescent - to next New Moon

Following the hour later setting, by this phase, around 6 – 8 days from Full. Now, the Moon rises around midnight – and decreases (wanes) in light to the waning crescent phase. As the moon ‘catches up’ to the sun again, ‘she’ sets about fifty to sixty minutes earlier each morning. Then the moon is invisible for a day or two again, known as Dark Moon phase, and is so as during the day the sun brightness overpowers the moon, and at night, both are below the horizon.