Today, Jan. 26, 2023, the moon is 5 days old and is currently in the waxing crescent phase of its lunar cycle. It is 27% illuminated. In January 2023, the moon's phases occur on these days:
- Full Moon: Jan. 6
- Last Quarter: Jan. 14
- New Moon: Jan. 21
- First quarter: Jan. 28
Moon phases reveal the passage of time in the night sky. Some nights when we look up at the moon, it is full and bright; sometimes it is just a sliver of silvery light. These changes in appearance are the phases of the moon. As the moon orbits Earth, it cycles through eight distinct phases.
The four primary phases of the moon occur about a week apart, with the full moon its most dazzling stage.
Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001. He covers skywatching, human spaceflight, exploration as well as space science and entertainment, and enjoys observing the moon through a tabletop Celestron telescope when the weather is clear.
What's the moon phase tonight?
While the moon has four distinct phases each month, it is always changing.
As you observe the moon during the month, watch as it grows from a new moon to a first quarter moon. As it grows, it is known as a waxing moon, and gradually increases from a waxing "crescent" (for its shape into the first quarter moon. As it continues to brighten, it takes on an oblong, or "gibbous," shape until it reaches the full moon stage.
Then it will repeat the steps in reverse as it heads back to a new moon. You can see what today's moon phase is here with the embedded widget on this page, courtesy of In-The-Sky.org (opens in new tab).
What is the next moon phase?(opens in new tab)
After the new moon on Jan. 21, the next moon phase milestone will be the First Quarter Moon on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 10:19 a.m. EST (1519 GMT).
The First Quarter Moon, also known as the first half moon of the month because the moon appears half-illuminated as seen from Earth, marks the time when the moon is a quarter of its way through its lunar cycle and journey around the Earth.
"People may casually call this a half moon, but remember, that's not really what you’re witnessing in the sky," NASA wrote in a statement (opens in new tab). "You’re seeing just a slice of the entire moon ― half of the illuminated half."
The First Quarter moon rises around noon and sets at about midnight, according to NASA. That means it will appear high in the sky in the evening, making it an excellent time for lunar viewing, the agency added.
Moon phase calendar for 2023
Here are the moon phases for 2023, according to NASA's SKYCAL (opens in new tab). Times and dates are in UTC time. If you need equipment for viewing the moon, check out our guide to the best telescopes and the best telescopes for kids.
|New Moon||First Quarter||Full Moon||Last Quarter|
|--||--||Jan. 6, 6:08 p.m.||Jan. 14, 9:10 p.m.|
|Jan. 21, 3:53 p.m.||Jan. 28, 10:19 a.m.||Feb. 5, 1:29 p.m.||Feb. 13, 11:01 a.m.|
|Feb. 20, 2:06 a.m.||Feb. 27, 3:06 a.m.||March 7, 7:40 am ET||March 14, 10:08 p.m.|
|March 21, 1:23 p.m.||March 28, 10:32 p.m.||April 6, 12:34 a.m.||April 13, 5:11 a.m.|
|April 20, 12:12 a.m.||April 27, 5:20 p.m.||May 5, 1:34 p.m. .||May 12, 10:28 a.m.|
|May 19, 11:53 a.m.||May 27, 11:22 a.m.||June 3, 11:42 p.m.||June 10, 3:31 p.m.|
|June 18, 12:37 a.m.||June 26, 3:50 a.m.||July 3, 7:39 a.m.||July 9, 9:48 p.m.|
|July 17, 2:32 p.m.||July 25, 6:07 p.m.||Aug. 1, 2:31 p.m.||Aug. 8, 6:28 a.m.|
|Aug. 16, 5:38 a.m.||Aug. 24, 5:57 a.m.||Aug. 30, 9:35 p.m.||Sept. 6, 6:21 p.m.|
|Sept. 14, 9:40 p.m.||Sept. 22, 3:32 p.m.||Sept. 29, 5:57 a.m.||Oct. 6, 9:48 a.m.|
|Oct. 14, 1:55 p.m.||Oct. 21, 11:29 p.m.||Oct. 28, 4:24 p.m.||Nov. 5, 3:37 a.m.|
|Nov. 13, 4:27 a.m.||Nov. 20, 5:50 a.m.||Nov. 27, 4:16 a.m.||Dec. 5, 12:49 a.m.|
|Dec. 12, 6:32 a.m.||Dec. 19, 1:39 p.m.||Dec. 26, 7:33 p.m.|
Phases of the moon(opens in new tab)
The moon, like Earth, is a sphere, and it is always half-illuminated by the sun. As the moon travels around Earth, we see more or less of the illuminated half. Moon phases describe how much of the moon's disk is illuminated from our perspective.
New moon: The moon is between Earth and the sun, and the side of the moon facing toward us receives no direct sunlight; it is lit only by dim sunlight reflected from Earth.
Waxing crescent: As the moon moves around Earth, the side we can see gradually becomes more illuminated by direct sunlight.
First quarter: The moon is 90 degrees away from the sun in the sky and is half-illuminated from our point of view. We call it "first quarter" because the moon has traveled about a quarter of the way around Earth since the new moon.
Waxing gibbous: The area of illumination continues to increase. More than half of the moon's face appears to be getting sunlight.
Full moon: The moon is 180 degrees away from the sun and is as close as it can be to being fully illuminated by the sun from our perspective. The sun, Earth and the moon are aligned, but because the moon’s orbit is not exactly in the same plane as Earth’s orbit around the sun, they rarely form a perfect line. When they do, we have a lunar eclipse as Earth's shadow crosses the moon's face.
Waning gibbous: More than half of the moon's face appears to be getting sunlight, but the amount is decreasing.
Last quarter: The moon has moved another quarter of the way around Earth, to the third quarter position. The sun's light is now shining on the other half of the visible face of the moon.
Waning crescent: Less than half of the moon's face appears to be getting sunlight, and the amount is decreasing.
Finally, the moon is back to its new moon starting position. Now, the moon is between Earth and the sun. Usually, the moon passes above or below the sun from our vantage point, but occasionally it passes right in front of the sun, and we get a solar eclipse.
Additional moon phase resources
NASA's SkyCal Events Calendar (opens in new tab) offers a comprehensive calendar of moon phases, lunar and solar eclipses and more for the entire calendar year. You can see more about the full moons of 2023, in Space.com's Full Moon Calendar. Our night sky guide has a list of events for skywatching this month.
SkyCal - SkyEvents Calendar, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center
What's Up - Skywatching Tips from NASA