Tonight could offer a good opportunity for viewing details on the lunar surface.
When you look up at the moon tonight, Feb. 13, you might notice that it appears to be cut in half. That's because the moon is in its last-quarter phase, also known as the third-quarter phase, during which the part of the moon that faces Earth is only lit on one side.
In New York City, the moon will hit its last-quarter phase at exactly 11:01 a.m. EST (1601 GMT), according to In-the-Sky. But the moon will actually have already set at that time — it will have risen around 12:30 a.m. EST (0530 GMT) and will have set around 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT) today. But don't worry, it'll rise again late tonight — technically in the early hours of tomorrow morning (Feb. 14) — around 1:45 a.m. EST (0715 GMT) and set around 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT), and it'll still appear to be just about half illuminated.
The last-quarter phase is the fourth main phase in the moon's 29.5-day cycle, which is how long it takes for the celestial body to orbit the Earth. Because the moon does not emit light of its own, but rather reflects the sun's light, only half of the moon is illuminated at any given moment. From Earth, we can only see a portion of that illuminated face at any given time — save for the full moon phase, during which we see it all.
The next phase we'll "see" is the new moon on Feb. 20, but we actually won't see anything at all. When the moon reaches the new phase, its illuminated face faces away from Earth, and the dark face blends in with the blackness of space. Following the new moon, the moon will wax into the first-quarter phase over the course of about a week, then wax into the full moon on March 7, before returning to the last-quarter phase about a week later.
Want to get a closer look at the last-quarter moon tonight? We've named the best telescopes and best binoculars for stargazing — and moon-gazing, too. And if you want to capture the moment for posterity, read through our guide about how to photograph the moon (and check out our picks for the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography).
Editor's Note: If you snap the last quarter moon, and would like to share it with Space.com's readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to email@example.com.