This is called Full Moon, and many cultures around the world have names for the Full Moons that occur throughout the year, such as Harvest Moon, or the Cold Moon. After the Moon is full, it begins to wane each day as the bright round moon is reduced again to a tiny sliver of light and finally to disappear to begin the cycle all over again. What physically causes what we observe in the sky with our own eyes?
Consider the pattern of the lunar phases in relation to the Sun. As the moon moves further from the Sun in our sky, it grows more and more full. As the moon moves closer to our Sun, it wanes and darkens. The moon is round, like a giant ball and it revolves around the earth. Sunlight from the Sun is what is lighting up the Moon.
Vampires beware, moonlight is nothing more than reflected sunlight! As the Moon slides away from the Sun in our sky, we see the thin crescent, the edges of the great ball that is the moon being illuminated by sunlight hitting it from the edges. The moon waxes through the gibbous phases until the moon is on the other side of the earth, directly opposite from the Sun. As it moves in its orbit there is a moment in time when the Moon is directly opposite the Sun and is fully illuminated from our point of view on earth. This moment is Full Moon. Now, the Moon continues around and approaches the Sun from the other side, and begins to wane in brightness as less and less of the Moon from our vantage point receives light from the Sun.
The gibbous and crescent phases decline from the opposite side of the Moon from where they were growing as we approached New Moon because now, like on a merry-go-round, the Moon approaches the Sun from the opposite side from which it left. Sometimes the Full Moon will pass directly into the shadow of the Earth and we observe this as a Lunar Eclipse.
Everyone on Earth who can see the Moon can see a Lunar Eclipse when it occurs because the Moon is physically in the shadow of the Earth and not receiving any light. A Solar Eclipse on the other hand can only occur during New Moon and this happens on occasion when the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun on its orbit.
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The Moon is small, and so the shadow from the Moon cannot cover the entire Earth and instead creates a shadow that races across the globe at supersonic speeds as the Moon passes by. Astronomers can calculate the exact times of the New and Full Moon to great accuracy, and you can find these times in most almanacs.
The orbit of the Moon as well as our path around the Sun are quite well understood. Sure, on one hand these solar and lunar events can signal evolution and positive change, but on the other hand, they can really throw our regularly scheduled lives through a loop , so it's good to know when you'll need to brace for their impact. Ahead, find out when all the new moons, full moons , eclipses , retrogrades , and Zodiac seasons will occur in Dates for all lunar phases are determined by EST.
Neil Spencer - Writer and Astrologer
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