The Names of the Different Shapes of the Moon

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The Names of the Different Shapes of the Moon

Throughout history, humans have been fascinated by the moon, its different phases, and its ever-changing shapes. From ancient civilizations to modern astronomy, people have developed various names and descriptions for the different shapes of the moon. In this blog post, we will explore the common names given to the various shapes of the moon and the significance they hold.

The Moon’s Phases

Before diving into the names of the moon’s shapes, let’s quickly review the different phases of the moon. The moon revolves around the Earth, and as it orbits, different portions of its illuminated side become visible to observers on Earth. These distinct phases are:

  1. New Moon: This is when the Moon is not visible from Earth because the illuminated side is facing away from us.
  2. Waxing Crescent: In this phase, only a small portion of the illuminated side of the Moon is visible, forming a crescent shape.
  3. First Quarter: At this stage, the Moon appears as a half-circle, with the right side illuminated.
  4. Waxing Gibbous: This phase occurs between the First Quarter and Full Moon, where the illuminated portion is more significant than the First Quarter but not fully lit.
  5. Full Moon: In this phase, the entire illuminated side of the Moon is visible from Earth, appearing as a complete circle.
  6. Waning Gibbous: Between the Full Moon and Third Quarter, the visible illuminated area gradually decreases, creating a shape similar to the Waxing Gibbous.
  7. Third Quarter: Similar to the First Quarter, this phase shows a half-circle, but with the left side illuminated.
  8. Waning Crescent: The Moon is almost invisible in this phase, with only a small crescent shape visible.

Now that we have refreshed our memory on the different phases of the moon, let’s explore the names given to the distinct shapes observed within these phases.

Common Names for the Shapes of the Moon

While the moon’s shapes can vary based on one’s perspective and atmospheric conditions, there are several commonly accepted names given to specific observable shapes. These names often relate to familiar objects or animals that bear some resemblance to the moon’s appearance. Let’s delve into these names:

Shape Name Description
Crescent Moon Crescent A thin, curved shape resembling a crescent or the letter “C”. It appears during the Waxing Crescent and Waning Crescent phases.
Half Moon Half Moon A circular shape that appears as a semicircle during the First Quarter and Third Quarter phases.
Gibbous Moon Gibbous A shape between a half moon and a full moon, appearing as a rounded bulge on the left or right side. It can be observed during Waxing Gibbous and Waning Gibbous phases.
Harvest Moon Harvest A full moon that is closest to the autumnal equinox. It typically rises shortly after sunset and appears larger and redder near the horizon.
Hunter’s Moon Hunter A full moon that follows the Harvest Moon, appearing in October. It is often associated with the time for hunting game.
Blue Moon Blue An extra full moon that occurs due to a variance in the lunar calendar. Despite the name, the moon does not actually appear blue.

These are just a few examples of the names given to the different shapes of the moon. Different cultures and regions may have additional names and interpretations based on their traditions and folklore.

The Significance of Moon Names

The names assigned to the shapes of the moon hold cultural, historical, and even religious significance in different societies. For example, in many agricultural communities, the Harvest Moon and Hunter’s Moon bear importance as they mark specific times for harvesting and hunting.

In some legends and myths, people associated the different shapes of the moon with various celestial beings or deities. These names and interpretations often reflect the beliefs and values of the societies that created them.

Furthermore, certain moon names have found their way into popular culture, literature, and art. Artists, poets, and writers have drawn inspiration from the moon’s shapes, using them symbolically to convey emotions, depict landscapes, or set a mood.


The moon’s different shapes have captivated humanity for centuries. Through careful observation and creative interpretation, we have given names to these shapes, attaching cultural significance and meanings to each one. Whether it be the graceful crescent, the majestic full moon, or the enigmatic gibbous moon, the moon’s varying shapes continue to inspire awe and wonder in people all over the world.

Next time you gaze up at the night sky and admire the moon, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of its many shapes and the stories they tell.

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The Names of the Different Shapes of the Moon