Moon Phases

Related Topics: The Moon

The moon's phases are caused by changes in the amount of illumination from the moon that is visible from the Earth's surface as the moon orbits our planet each month. There are eight distinct phases every month, four of them occurring roughly a week apart. They are: the New Moon; Waxng Crescent; First Quarter (or half-full; Waxing Gibbous; Full Moon; Waning Gibbous; Last Quarter (half-full on other side); Waning Crescent. You can read definitions for these moons here. When the moon is full and at its closest point to the Earth in it's orbit, it is known as a "Supermoon." Lunar eclipses occur during full moons, when the moon passes through all or part of Earth's shadow. During New Moons, the moon can cover part or all of the sun's disk, creating a solar eclipse. Learn more about the moon's phases here.