for Activity 3, you need at least 4 different observations of differnt
phases. Observations should be no less than 3-4 days apart. More is better, but you
need at least 4. Please see below for an observing log you can use.
A description of the
Moon phases and when and where to look for them is below:
New Moon is so close in line with the Sun that it cannot
be seen at all. The graphic here shows it as a faint outline, but in
fact you cannot see it at all. New Moon means "No Moon." It rises
with the Sun in the east and sets with it in the west. If you can
observe the Moon at all, it is not a New Moon. A few days before New
Moon, you can see a thin crescent in
the east just before sunrise. A few days after New Moon you can
see a thin crescent in the west shortly after sunset. (Although
you can't use a "New Moon" as one of your
observations, it is perfectly fine to report a Crescent Moon.)
The crescent Moon before sunrise is called a "Waning
Crescent Moon," and after sunset it is called a
"Waxing Crescent Moon." This later phase progresses
toward First Quarter.
Waxing Crescent Moon
This is the Crescent Moon seen between New Moon
Quarter Moon. It is seen for anywhere in the West to Southwest
sky from a few minutes to a few hours after sunset. Sometimes it
is described as a "thumbnail" or
"sickle" shape. "Waxing" means that it is
getting bigger and brighter with each successive night.
First Quarter Moon
The First Quarter Moon occurs about a week after
rising at about mid-day and setting at about midnight. It can be
seen in the evening, but not in the morning. You can see this
Moon in broad daylight, in the east or southeast in the
afternoon. By sunset, it is high in the southern sky. It is
shaped somewhat like the letter "D," which is more or
less on its back when rising, upright when it is in the southern
sky, and turned with the curved side down when it is near to
setting in the west or southwest. It is a "quarter"
Moon because all you see is one quarter of the Moon's surface
(you have to count the back side, too).
Waxing Gibbous Moon
This phase is between First Quarter and Full Moon.
seen in the Southeast to South sky at sunset, and progresses
farther West as the night goes on. It sets typically from a
couple hours after midnight until just before sunrise.
"Gibbous" means that it appears outwardly curved on
both sides (it is "humped" on both sides), but is not
With the Full Moon you see all of the visible side
Moon. In the sense that the quarter moons are only quarters,
this Moon is really a half Moon! [Although you see the full side
of the Moon toward us illuminated, that's just half the Moon --
the other half is on the other side!] You will see it rising in
the East at about sunset, high in the South at midnight, and
setting in the West at about sunrise. The exact orientation of
features depends on where it is in the sky. This depiction shows
the Full Moon as it would appear high in the southern sky, at
roughly midnight. The Moon may appear completely full a day or
two before the exact time of the phase, or a day or two
Waning Gibbous Moon
This phase is between Full Moon and Last Quarter
be seen in the East to Southeast sky not long after midnight,
and progresses farther West as the night goes on. It sets
typically a few hours after sunrise. As with the Waxing Gibbous
Moon, it is outwardly curved on both sides. "Waning"
means that it is getting smaller and less full with each
Last Quarter Moon
The Last Quarter Moon is often called the Third
It rises at about midnight and can be seen in the predawn sky.
It is high in the South at sunrise, and can be seen for a time
in the Southwest even after sunrise. It sets at about noon the
following day. Its shape is like that of a backwards letter
Waning Crescent Moon
This is the Crescent Moon seen between Last
the next New Moon. It is seen in the East to Southeast sky
up to a few hours before sunrise. It looks pretty much the
mirror image of the Waxing Crescent Moon, but in the morning
The Observing Log
Daniel Clampitt has produced an wonderful observing log and has agreed
to let everyone use it. You can download it in PDF and Excel format.
2011 by Final Copy, Inc. All rights reserved.
This activity may be
reproduced for classroom use, but may not be republished in any form,
or used in
any profit-making activity without express written consent.
Final Copy, Inc.