JOHN SANFORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN SANFORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Waxing half Moon. Optical image of a waxing half Moon. The Moon is said to wax when it is increasing in apparent size. This stage in the phases of the Moon is known as the first quarter. The Moon's phases start with a new Moon, progress to the first quarter, reach a full Moon, and then continue through to a new moon again. One cycle takes around 28 days. The phases of the Moon are due to its orbit around Earth. When it lies in between the Earth and the Sun, only the unlit side faces us (a new Moon). When the Earth lies between it and the Sun, we see a full Moon. North is at top. For the sequence of the Moon's phases, see images R340/526-532.
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