Waxing vs Waning
Throughout many centuries, mankind has marveled at the beauty of a full moon. Poetry about its legend, beauty and mystique has been spoken and written since the beginning of time. Anyone can identify a full moon, because it is bright and round. Most people know about a new moon, because it is dark and not easily visible; however, the terms waxing and waning are confusing to many people, and this article describes these astronomical terms.
The waxing moon is the lunar phase, starting when the moon is just passed its darkest, and continues until the moon is at its brightest. When the moon is waxing, a sliver more can be viewed each night, and it appears to be growing.
The waning moon is the lunar phase, beginning when the moon is just passed its brightest and fullest, and continues until the moon can no longer be easily viewed. When the moon is waning, it appears to shrink each night.
Distinguishing Waxing and Waning
How can it be determined if the moon is waxing? When the moon is in its waxing phase, it looks similar to the capital letter ‘D’, in that the right side of the moon is smooth and rounded; whereas, the left side looks more uneven and darkening.
What makes the waning moon easily identifiable? When the moon is in its waning phase, it appears more like the capital letter ‘C'; the right side appears darker, more indistinct, while the left side is smooth and rounded.
Sometimes it is difficult to remember the difference between the waxing and waning lunar phases. People are said to be ‘waxing poetic’, which means that they are expanding on their topic of discussion, and continuing to add more and more, sometimes superfluously. Teaching children a way to remember a waxing moon, is to use their right hand. Take the natural curve of the right hand from the thumb to the first finger, and if the moon fits on this side, it is ‘developing’ or increasing, and getting larger.
But how can waning be remembered? One way to think of it is, by ‘the more pizza he ate, the more his appetite waned, or diminished'; he became much less hungry. Teaching children a way to remember a waning moon, is to use their left hand. Take the natural curve of the left hand from the thumb to the first finger, and if the moon fits on this side, it is ‘cut’ or shrinking, and getting smaller.
1. A waxing moon is ‘developing’, or getting larger, and fits in the shape of a ‘D'; whereas, a waning moon is being ‘cut’, or is shrinking, and fits in the letter ‘C’.
2. The waxing moon is the lunar phase, starting when the moon is just passed its darkest, and continues until the moon is at its brightest; whereas, the waning moon is the lunar phase beginning when the moon is just passed its brightest and fullest.