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How many moon phases are there?

How many moon phases are there

Short Answer

There are 8 phases of the moon. The first moon phase is the New Moon, or phase in which the moon is not visible in the sky. The middle phase of the lunar cycle is the Full Moon. The lunar cycle is measured from New Moon to New Moon.


What are the moon’s phases?

List of moon phases

  1. New Moon
  2. Waxing Crescent (also called an “Evening Crescent”)
  3. First Quarter (sometimes mistakenly called a “Half moon”)
  4. Waxing Gibbous
  5. Full Moon
  6. Waning Gibbous
  7. Last Quarter (sometimes mistakenly called a “Half moon”)
  8. Waning Crescent (also called a “Morning Crescent”)


The 8 phases of the moon

Do you know the moon phase today?  See today’s moon phase here

Are there 4, 8 or 12 moon phases?

Traditionally there are 8 phases of the lunar cycle. But that is a Western cultural viewpoint. Some cultures have fewer. Mathematically speaking,  there’s no exact number of phases because the divisions are arbitrary human points drawn on a continuous cycle from new moon to full moon to new moon again.

In other words, the division of the moon’s progression into eight phases is a human decision. Why? Mostly because we humans can easily perceive 8 different phases, and it would be harder for us to visualize more than 8 phases or keep them visually distinct.

If one wanted to, one could also divide the lunar cycle into 16, 32 or any other number of phases, just as one can divide a distance into an arbitrary number of units.

In Chinese culture, aside from the Full and New moons, it is only important whether the moon is waxing or waning, and less important what the points along the way are.

Did you know you can find the moon phase for any date? Were you born on a full moon?

In other cultures the moon only has 4 phases. These are sometimes referred to as the moon’s “primary phases”.

The list of primary moon phases

  1. New Moon
  2. First Quarter
  3. Full Moon
  4. Last Quarter

In “moon phase astrology” the individual phases of the moon each have spiritual meanings and exert different influences on each of us. See today’s moon phase here

What do the moon phases mean in astrology?

  1. New Moon Meaning: The new moon signifies “new beginnings” and a perfect period to begin new projects. Creative energy is rushing through everything, plans form even if end goals are not yet clear. Think big. Plan for tomorrow and recognize that the path will soon by very clear.
  2. Waxing Crescent Moon Meaning: The waxing crescent is the first visible phase of the lunar cycle. Plans begin to turn into actions. Mistakes will be made, but they are part of the process. Forward momentum is what’s important.
  3. First Quarter Moon Meaning: Momentum is now moving at full pace. Goals are now clear, but the First Quarter is often a time of conflict. Doubts can set in. It is often a time of questioning oneself. Follow your instincts.
  4. Waxing Gibbous Moon Meaning: The waxing gibbous phase is a period of powerful anticipation for what is coming. Something big is about to happen, you can feel it everywhere. On the other hand, the temptation to quit early will be very strong at this time. Press forward with your plans.
  5. Full Moon Meaning: The full moon represents the culmination of all lunar energy. We can feel it all around us. At times it may be so strong that we act irrationally. Its energy fills the world around us and shows us that goals can be fulfilled. Emotions run high, like the full moon tide. Beware of new projects at this time. Our decision making capacity may be poor.
  6. Waning Gibbous Moon Meaning: Energy levels begin to fall all around us. Things that we were clear and confident about only days ago may suddenly be called into question. Take this time to learn new things: Read, study and expand your mind.
  7. Last Quarter Moon Meaning: The last quarter moon is a time to take stock and evaluate oneself and one’s performance. Everything will be questioned at this time. It will be very easy to make mistakes. Prepare to gather what you have learned and have faith in your own knowledge.
  8. Waning Crescent Moon Meaning: A time of introspection and meditation has arrived. Conserve your spiritual energy and prepare for the lunar cycle to end. As the moon fades to darkness, prepare yourself for the beginning of the next cycle and a rebirth of creative energies.

For more moon phase information, see iFate’s main moon phase page.

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