We teach you what you need to know to be comfortable and confident in the woods and more self-reliant at home







MNSI Site Search






Waxing or Waning Moon?
by T. Laskowski

If you want to determine if the moon is Waxing (getting bigger) or Waning (getting smaller) all you have to do is look when you can see it. If it is visible in the evening sky the Moon is Waxing (getting bigger). If the moon is visible at dawn or in the early morning, it is Waning. Here is a rhyme to help you remember it.

If you see the Moon at the end of the day
A bright Full Moon is on its way
If you see the Moon in the early dawn
Look real quick, it will soon be gone.

Another way to identify a Waxing or Waning Moon is to look at which side is "incomplete". When the Moon is illuminated in such a way that the side facing West is "incomplete" the Moon is Waning (getting smaller). It the side to the East is "incomplete" the Moon is Waxing (getting bigger)

Incomplete to the West
The Moon will disappear and hide in its nest
Incomplete to the East
Soon it’s as big as a Christmas feast.

Examples of “incomplete to the West”
This Moon is Waning (on its way to “hide” in its nest)

Example of “incomplete to the East”
This Moon is Waxing (soon getting as large as a Christmas feast)

You can also associate the first letter of the direction that the “incomplete” side of the moon is facing. If the West side in “incomplete, the “W” in West corresponds with WANING. If the “incomplete” side is facing East, the “E” in East corresponds with the word ENLARGING

One more way to determine if the moon is waxing or waning is to look to see what side of the moon is "incomplete" If the side facing an eastern direction is "incomplete" you can remember that the rising sun in the east "fills the day with light" just as it will "fill the moon with light" and make it full soon (waxing moon).

If the "incomplete" side is toward the western direction rmemeber that when the sun goes to the west it is setting thus taking light away from the day, just as it will take "light away from the moon" (a waning moon).

Printer friendly version of this page