What does it mean if the moon is waxing or waning? What’s a blue moon, red moon, supermoon? What happens during an eclipse? The folks over at Futurism have put together a very handy infographic that explains these and more.
Phases of the Moon Explained
New Moon: The Moon is lined up between the Earth and Sun, and is lit only by Earth shine.
Waxing Crescent: As the Moon moves easy away from the Sun, the crescent moon “waxes”, appearing to grow fatter each night.
First Quarter: Half of the Moon is illuminated, and it is now one quarter of the way through the lunar month (29.53 days).
Waxing Gibbous: Waxing continues, and when more than half of the Moon is lit, it forms into a gibbous shape, growing fatter each night. Gibbous means, “having the observable illuminated part greater than a semicircle and less than a circle.”
Full Moon: The Moon is now fully sunlit, having completed one half of the lunar month.
Waning Gibbous: One the second half of the lunar month, the Moon is still gibbous but grows thinner each night. This is called “waning”.
Third Quarter: Three quarter point in its month, the moon once again has one side lit and the other side in darkness.
Waning Crescent: The Moon is about to complete its cycle and begin again a new phase.
Click the infographic below to see a larger, more legible version.
Moon Phenomena Explained
Red Moon: Seen when the moon is low in the sky. It’s a function of the same phenomenon that makes for red sunsets – the Moon’s light is reddened from passing through leagues of dusty atmosphere.
Blue Moon: A year has four seasons, each with three months and normally three full moons. When one of the season’s has four full Moons, the third full Moon is called a Blue Moon. Blue Moons occur every 2.7 years.
Strawberry Moon: The Moon hangs quite low, and its light pours through thick, humid air, creating an amber glow. The full Strawberry Moon of June 20th, 2016 coincided with the first day of the summer solstice, an event that last happened in 1967 and will occur next in 2062.
Supermoon: The Moon makes its closest orbital approach, resulting in a larger disk size as seen from the Earth. There can be as many as three supermoons per full Moon cycle. Roughly every 14th full Moon will be a supermoon, and the perceived increase in size could be as much as 14%.
Eclipse: The Moon’s disc occults the Sun – as viewed from the Earth – producing a solar eclipse. When the Earth is between the Sun and the Moon, and the Moon crosses the Earth’s shadow, a lunar eclipse occurs.