Moon Phases

The Moon Phases in Astrology

Moon phases are defined as New, Crescent, First Quarter, Gibbous, Full, Disseminating, Last Quarter, or Balsamic. These eight phases symbolically correspond with the stages in the planting cycle, beginning with the potential represented by the seed in the ground, and also to important seasonal events of the yearly cycle, starting with the Winter Solstice.
New Moon
New Moon
This is the beginning portion of the moon's phases. A new moon happens when the moon is located between the sun and the Earth. We typically cannot see a new moon since the dark side of the moon is facing the Earth.

New moons can create a solar eclipse where the moon blocks the sun's rays and creates a shadow on parts of the Earth.
Crescent Moon
Crescent Moon
During the Waxing Crescent phase, the moon travels east in the sky. The waxing crescent phase of the moon begins once we can see a tiny sliver of the moon after a new moon. There are times when you might be able to see the rest of the moon as well, even if it is dark because of a phenomenon called "earthshine" in which the Earth reflects sunlight to the moon.

This phase occurs a few days after a new moon.
First Quarter Moon
First Quarter Moon
The next phase of the lunar cycle is the first quarter. During this phase happens when you can see half of the moon that is illuminated. The name "first quarter" comes from the fact that at this stage the lunar cycle is 1/4 of the way completed. Not everyone will see the same halves of the moon lit up during this phase, primarily because it depends on your location. So, some people may see the right half illuminated while others might see the left half illuminated.
Gibbous Moon
Gibbous Moon
This phase essentially covers the time between the first quarter phase and the full moon phase. the words waxing gibbous describe what the phase is pretty well. Waxing means growing larger, and the word gibbous refers to the shape, so waxing gibbous essentially means "growing shape". The moon will get more and more illuminated until the moon is fully illuminated, which starts the next phase.
Full Moon
Full Moon
As you probably already know, a full moon is when the entire moon face is completely illuminated by the sun. Full moons occur when the sun and moon are on opposite sides of Earth. Technically the moon is only 100% illuminated by the sun for a few moments, but this phase also covers when the moon looks full but isn't.

When the moon is at its closest point to the Earth in its orbit it is called a supermoon, and at its farthest point, it is called a micro-moon. Another cool thing that occasionally happens during a full moon is when the moon passes through our Earth's shadow, called a lunar eclipse. During a lunar eclipse, the moon will be a reddish color, like the picture above shows.
Disseminating Moon
Disseminating Moon
Like we covered above, waxing means increasing and waning means decreasing. So, in this case, the waning gibbous moon means that the shape is decreasing. The waning gibbous phase lasts until the moon is half illuminated.
Last Quarter Moon
Last Quarter Moon
This phase is basically the exact opposite of the first quarter moon. This is when the moon is half lit up in the sky, and it also signals when the lunar phase is 3/4 of the way completed.
Balsamic Moon
Balsamic Moon
This is the final stage of the lunar cycle. This phase starts when the sun illuminates less than half of the moon and continues on until the New Moon phase. During this phase, we can also see the effect of "Earthshine", just like we can during the new moon phase.

This phase "ends" when the moon and the sun rise at the same time, which starts the lunar cycle over again starting with the new moon.