Why does the moon looks like having different filters sometimes?

Why does the moon looks like having different filters sometimes?

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Why does the moon look more yellow or more LED-like? Thanks in advance

TL;DR: because of the Earth's atmosphere.

When the Moon is low on the horizon, the light we receive from the Moon has to go through a lot of layers of the atmosphere. Rayleigh scattering makes this light more yellowish/orangish, for the same reason sunsets look orange.

A very thin layer of clouds can also change the appearance of the Moon.

Sometimes, the Moon ends up in the Earth's shadow. In this case, the light that hits the Moon first went through the Earth's atmosphere. Because of Rayleigh scattering (again), the light that went through the atmosphere is red. This gives the Moon a reddish tint.

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The Phases of the Moon
Label the Moon Phases

As the moon circles the Earth, the shape of the moon appears to change this is because different amounts of the illuminated part of the moon are facing us. The shape varies from a full moon (when the Earth is between the sun and the moon) to a new moon (when the moon is between the sun and the Earth).

When two full moons occur in a single month, the second full moon is called a "Blue Moon." Another definition of the blue moon is the third full moon that occurs in a season of the year which has four full moons (usually each season has only three full moons.)

A crescent moon is part way between a half moon and a new moon, or between a new moon and a half moon.

A full moon appears as an entire circle in the sky. The full moon is given different names, depending on when it appears. For example, the "Harvest moon" is the full moon that appears nearest to the Autumnal Equinox, occurring in late September or early October. Some other full moon names (by month) include:

January Moon After Yule, Wolf Moon, or Old Moon
February Snow Moon or Hunger Moon
March Sap Moon, Crow Moon, or Lenten Moon
April Grass Moon or Egg Moon
May Milk Moon or Planting Moon
June Rose Moon, Flower Moon, or Strawberry Moon
July Thunder Moon or Hay Moon
August Grain Moon or Green Corn Moon
September Fruit Moon or Harvest Moon
October Harvest Moon or Hunter's Moon
November Hunter's Moon, Frosty Moon, or Beaver Moon
December Moon Before Yule or Long Night Moon.

Moonrise from Earth :
The moon rises and sets every day, appearing on the horizon just like the sun. The time depends on the phase of the moon. It rises about 30 to 70 minutes later each day than the previous day, so the moon is out during daytime as often is it's out at night. At the time of the new moon, the moon rises at about the same time the sun rises, and it sets at about the same time the sun sets. As the days go by (as it waxes to become a crescent moon, a half moon, and a gibbous moon, on the way to a full moon), the moon rises during daytime (after the sun rises), rising later each day, and it sets at nighttime, setting later and later each night. At the full moon, the times of moonrise and moonset have advanced so that the moon rises about the same time the sun sets, and the moon sets at about the same time the sun rises. As the moon wanes (becoming a half moon and a crescent moon, on the way to a new moon), the moon rises during the night, after sunset, rising later each night. It then sets in the daytime, after the sun rises. Eventually, the moon rises so late at night that it's actually rising around sunrise, and it's setting around sunset. That's when it's a new moon once again.

The Moon Is Flipped on The Other Side of The World, And It's Freaking Us Out

You step off the plane, having travelled across the world to the opposite hemisphere. The seasons are all backwards, and when you look up at the full Moon, you realise it's not even the right way up!

Not only is this incredibly weird (mostly because, how did we not realise this before?), but this curious quirk of our round planet actually has surprising implications for researchers trying to investigate the night sky.

"From our perspective, the Moon and the night sky is actually rotated 180 degrees compared to our Northern Hemispherical friends," Jake Clark, an astronomer from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, explained to ScienceAlert.

"In the south we see the Moon's dark 'Oceanus Procellarum' sea in the south-east corner compared to in the north-west corner for a northern observer."

But why does it look like this? Well, because physically, we're actually upside down compared to someone standing in the opposite hemisphere.

This diagram below shows what we mean:

This also extends to the crescent Moon – depending where you are in the world will give you different rotations of the crescent.

"Next time you're planning a holiday travel to a country near the equator during a crescent moon, when the Moon sets it will look like a smiling face," Clark explains.

And it's not just the Moon that's prone to changing orientation all of the stars you can see will be either different or upside down, too.

"It depends upon where you're located on Earth but generally the constellations we see in the Southern Hemisphere are rotated again by 180 degrees compared to the Northern Hemisphere," says Clark.

"In Australia, Orion's leg and belt is commonly known as 'The Saucepan', as it looks like a big old cooking pot!"

So how can you see what the other side of the world sees? Jonti Horner, also at the University of Southern Queensland, suggests a great approach: simply get upside down.

"I'm from the UK originally, and while I know the night sky really well, I sometimes find flipping my vision over helps me get my bearings!" he explains.

You can do a handstand if you're good at that sort of thing, but an easier way is to lie on the ground facing north and lean your head back until you see the ground at the top of your vision.

"You'll see the sky like I did when I grew up," he adds.

But this isn't perfect. The Southern Cross (aka the Crux), for instance, is visible practically all year in the Southern Hemisphere, but the Northern Hemisphere is lucky to catch a glimpse of it at all.

So what does this all mean for astronomers? Well, for Clark and Horner, not much – they look for exoplanets by measuring tiny changes in the stars colour or light intensity.

"These properties wouldn't change considerably if at all on where you observe them, since you're observing these effects tens, hundreds, or sometimes thousands of light years away."

But if the stars you want to study can't be seen on your side of the world, it can get a bit tricky.

"It makes astronomy hard if you're a northern hemispherical astronomer wanting to work on southern star you'll never observe from home," Clark explains.

There's a good reason why there are so many telescopes right across the world, and even a few in space.

"We astronomers have world-class telescopes spread all across the globe - from Mount Mauna Kea in Hawaii to Mount Kent in Queensland, trying to unlock the Universe's greatest mysteries no matter what hemisphere you're in."

If all this is blowing your mind a little bit, never forget the water goes down the drain the other direction on the other side of the world, too.

WTF Just Happened: Why Can't I Take a Decent Picture of the Moon?

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

Check out this awesome shot of the moon. (Note: This is actually a light bulb, but you can't tell the difference between this and many moon photos, which is the point.) Tim Moynihan/WIRED

To revist this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories.

The moon sure looks wonderful tonight. Why not take a picture of it? Wow, that's a great picture of a glowing blob. Nice work, Ansel Adams.

If all the crappy photos of the moon were printed out and stacked them on top of one another, they would reach to the moon and back. For something that (1) does not emit its own light and (2) begs to have its picture taken, the moon is surprisingly hard to photograph. Why is it so tricky?

There are a few obstacles at play. The obvious one is that the moon is very far away, which means that many cameras aren’t well-equipped to take good pictures of it. Smartphone cameras are wonderful for a lot of things. Photographing the moon is not one of them unless you have the phone hooked up to a telescope.

Due to a smartphone's small sensor, you need ample magnification to capture any kind of lunar detail. But smartphones don't have optical-zoom lenses, and using digital zoom doesn't have the same effect. What you really want is a far-reaching telephoto lens for this kind of shot. The longer the better.

Ideally, that long-zoom lens will be hooked up to a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, as their larger sensors capture sharper details. And because of the lens's optical reach, you also want a tripod or a flat surface to steady your camera. Even though you'll be using a fast shutter speed, the slightest movements with a long-zoom lens can add blur.

The other major obstacle is that even though the moon doesn’t shine by itself, it is intensely lit and a little bit reflective. Think of it as being illuminated by a massive, ridiculously powerful off-camera flash. That would be the sun.

Just like a normal flash, the sun can wash out the moon's highlights if you don’t use the proper exposure settings. You're dealing with a lot of glare. When you take a picture of the moon, what you're really trying to capture is the surface of the moon. Rather than just a glowy blob, you want to be able to see details: The marbly, shadowy complexion of craters, mountains, valleys, and lunar Starbucks franchises. To do that, you simply yell "enhance" at your photo-editing software need to cut through the moonshine.

It’s easy to do with a camera that has manual controls and the right lens. You basically want to err towards the underexposure side, which will reveal the moon's crater-ridden face. Keep in mind that it will do this at the expense of making everything else in the scene look dark.

There are a few settings you can adjust without even looking at the moon. Once you find a combination you like, you can save some time during future moon-shootin' sessions by setting it up as a custom mode on your camera (if your camera has that option).

1. Flip your camera to full manual mode so that you can set shutter, aperture, and ISO independently.

2. Use the lowest ISO setting on your camera to make the sensor less sensitive to light. That’s usually 50 or 100, but you may want to try ISO 200, too.

3. Set the shutter speed to 1/X, where X is the ISO setting you used in step 2.

4. Use a narrow aperture to keep the depth-of-field deep and limit the amount of light funneling through to the sensor. F11 is sometimes referred to as “Looney 11” because it’s especially good for moon shots, so you may want to try that first. Anywhere from F8 to F16 should work well.

That combination of settings should be a great starting point for your hand-rolled Moon Mode. But you’re not ready to shoot the moon just yet there are a couple of important things to do once you're ready to take some pictures. Once the moon is in your viewfinder, adjust the following settings.

5. The most important step is changing your light-metering mode to Spot Metering or Partial Metering, which will expose your shot to cut through the glaring glow of the moon. You’ll need to choose spot metering, frame the moon in the middle of the shot to meter it, and then frame the shot once it’s set. Keep in mind that when you do this, the moon may be the only thing in your shot that’s properly exposed anything darker than the moon will look pitch-black.

6. Use manual focus to get the sharpest shot possible, and if your camera has an exposure-bracketing mode, turn it on. It’ll give you three shots with every press of the shutter at different exposure levels, giving you the freedom to pick the best-looking one later on.

That should do it, but make adjustments as you go. Once you’re shooting, don’t be afraid to tweak the aperture, shutter, ISO, and exposure compensation (usually downward) to fine-tune the results.

Finally, there are two factors that don’t have anything to do with the camera at all. One is all about timing: The moon looks bigger and most dramatic when it’s near the horizon, so you’ll get the best photo opps within an hour of sunset or sunrise. Another has to do with location. You’re less likely to get a tack-sharp shot in a big city as you are in the middle of nowhere, because you'll be dealing with light pollution in heavily populated areas.

If it’s really foggy or cloudy, no in-camera adjustments will help. You’ll just have to try again tomorrow.

Why NASA’s new photos of the moon look super fake (even though they’re not)

Every once in awhile, as a person who writes about space, I encounter folks who don't believe in it. Or don't believe we've ever been there, anyway. Or that our robots have been there. Or that the Earth is round (but that's a whole other thing.) But while tweets about how "astronauts" on the "International" "Space" "Station" are actually just wearing harnesses and jumping around a soundstage in Siberia make me cringe, there's a particular flavor of space conspiracy tweet that makes a pretty good point.

That video at the top of this post looks totally fake. Like, viral video of a guy running into a tornado to take a selfie fake. But sometimes the truth looks more Photoshopped than fiction (Case in point: This flower looks like a literal demon and it just grows that way).

The recently released images — from the second time NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has watched the moon pass in front of the sunlit face of the Earth in a year — look fishy, and NASA scientists realize that.

Jay Herman, the NASA Goddard scientist who oversees the satellite's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), says he hears it all the time. But luckily, most of the critiques are easy enough to address.

First common question: If the images were taken over the course of about four hours, why don't the clouds move?

"If you look at the smaller-scale images from that same period, you will see some small changes in the cloud movement," Herman said. But the movements are tiny at the scale the Earth is in these photos. "All the main cloud features will look kind of stationary," he explained.

Keep in mind that the pixels in these images are just about 20 kilometers each. For a cloud to move just five pixels in an hour, you'd need a storm with winds of about 100 kilometers an hour. That's hurricane territory.

The Earth's seemingly sparse rotation raises questions as well.

"It has been claimed that the Earth does not rotate enough," DSCOVR project scientist Adam Szabo told The Washington Post in an email. "The Moon needs a month to go around the Earth while Earth spins around in 24 hours. In the lunar transit images the Moon moves a large amount while Earth rotates very little. Thus, the images are fake."

But this, he explained, is nothing but an optical illusion.

"The Moon is much closer to DSCOVR than Earth, thus it appears to move fast," he said. "The EPIC field of view is very narrow . . . So a very little movement of the Moon will result in the lunar disk completely crossing our full field of view."

Another question that I get a lot is why images of the Earth and the moon never have stars in them. Yes, stars are bright, but we're actually way brighter — at least from the perspective of a camera sitting a scant million miles away. The exposure time you need to capture the Earth and the moon doesn't capture distantly sparkling stars.

"A noteworthy thing is how much darker the moon is relative to Earth," Szabo said. "Many people complained that it is self-evident that the Moon is very bright as we see it most of every night. The answer is that the Moon is indeed bright relative to the dark sky, but Earth is even brighter. And, of course, few of us have seen the bright disk of Earth relative the background of the dark sky."

This, coupled with the fact that photos taken in space have no atmospheric blur — and that the lack of atmosphere on the moon gives it an edge that looks sharper than Earth's — makes it appear to pop out, like something Photoshopped onto the picture. It doesn't help that the moon doesn't rotate, because it's tidally locked to have one side facing Earth at all times. The moon, all dark and sharp, scoots across the rotating Earth like a cardboard cutout in front of a video that seems hazy in comparison. There's no denying that the result looks a little off.

In fact, this EPIC animation of the moon would probably do less of that ostentatious popping if NASA had Photoshopped it. The scientists didn't retouch the images at all, and that left this artifact:

The green and red bands on the right side (and less visible ones on the left) formed because the camera takes images with red, green, and blue filters separately and combines them to make living color. Because the wavelengths are snapped with a 30-second time delay among them, overlaying the resulting shots leaves a bit of a rainbow trail around the moon's edge.

Why does the moon turn red during a total lunar eclipse?

The only total lunar eclipse of the year will light up the sky this Wednesday (May 26), when the full moon (a supermoon due to the satellite's nearness to Earth) passes through Earth's shadow. During the so-called Super Flower Blood Moon lunar eclipse, the face of the moon will turn a brick-red hue.

The fiery glow is the most dramatic of the three types of lunar eclipses (the other two are called partial and penumbral). In addition, perfection is a must: A total lunar eclipse happens only when the sun, Earth and moon are perfectly lined up.

When the moon tiptoes into the outer portion of Earth's shadow, becoming totally bathed in the darkest part of that shadow, why isn't the result a "lights out" for the sky? Why instead does the moon become engulfed in a light-orange to blood-red glow?

Here's why: Picture yourself standing on the moon (lots of dust and craters at your feet), looking down on Earth during the spectacular night-sky event. When the Earth is directly in front of the sun &mdash blocking the sun's rays from lighting up the moon &mdash you'd see a fiery rim encircling the planet.

"The darkened terrestrial disk is ringed by every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all at once," according to NASA. Even though our planet is way bigger than the sun, our home star's light bends around the edges of Earth. This light gets reflected onto the moon.

But not before it travels through our atmosphere, which filters out the shorter-wavelength blue light, leaving the reds and oranges unscathed to bathe the moon's surface. And voila, a red moon.

The moon will change various shades during different stages of a total lunar eclipse, going from an initial grayish to orange and amber. Atmospheric conditions can also affect the brightness of the colors. For instance, extra particles in the atmosphere, such as ash from a large wildfire or a recent volcanic eruption, may cause the moon to appear a darker shade of red, according to NASA.

The moon doesn't always hide completely behind Earth's shadow. During partial lunar eclipses, the sun, Earth and moon are slightly off in their alignment, and so our planet's shadow engulfs just part of the moon.

A novice skywatcher might not even notice the third type of lunar eclipse, the penumbral kind, in which the moon sits in Earth's penumbra, or its faint outer shadow.

Wednesday's total lunar eclipse is expected to be visible in Australia, parts of the western United States, western South America and Southeast Asia, according to Other areas of the world, including the entire U.S., will be able to see at least some stages of the lunar eclipse, including its partial and penumbral phases.

As for the other types of lunar eclipses, the next three penumbral eclipses will occur on May 5&ndash6, 2023, March 24&ndash25, 2024 and Feb. 20&ndash21, 2027, according to The next total lunar eclipse, expected to be visible from parts of Asia, Australia, much of North America, South American, the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and Antarctica, according to, will occur on May 15&ndash16, 2022.

Editor's Note: This article was first published in 2016 and updated for the Super Blue Blood Moon lunar eclipse of 2018 and again in 2021.

The Moon meets all four of the most brilliant and easily-seen planets this week and next. See Bob’s post for viewing tips. Plus, for all you Moon lovers, let’s answer why the Moon rides high or runs low in the sky? What does this mean and why does it happen? Find out from Almanac astronomer Bob Berman.

The Moon Meets Each Planet

We are now enjoying a jewel box of nightly gemstones. Unlike this past spring, all four of the most brilliant and easily-seen planets are well placed. But just to make things unnecessarily easy, the Moon is about to highlight each one by hovering alongside it. Mark the following on your calendar:

  • Just before dawn on September 14, the crescent Moon will hover right next to dazzling Venus, the Morning Star. If you missed it, no problem. There’ll be a repeat performance on October 13 and 14.
  • All night long, the gibbous Moon will float alongside Jupiter on September 24.
  • Also all night long, the gibbous Moon will hover near Saturn the next night, September 25.
  • The nearly Full Moon will sit extremely close to brilliant orange Mars on October 2. Mars will soon be brighter and closer than it will again appear until 2035. It’s that brilliant orange “star” that “rides high” these nights, and pops up in the east starting around 9:30. It’s still high at dawn.

Why the Moon Rides High or Low

Speaking of “riding high,” your letters show you care about the Moon’s position in the sky. Want to predict it for yourself? A quick two-step process lets you know whether tonight’s Moon will “ride high” or “ride low” across the sky.

Let’s first look at the Sun:

  • You may already know that in summer the Sun “rides high” but takes a low-down path across the sky every winter.
  • Around the March equinox and September equinox, like now, the Sun occupies an in-between position.

The Moon Mimics the Sun

Well, if you know the current lunar phase, you can think of the Moon doing what the Sun does, in the following way:

  • Each month, the Full Moon travels oppositely from the Sun during that month. In early summer when the sun rides very high, that’s when the Full Moon rides at its lowest.
  • This September and October, the “opposite” of the Sun’s current equinoctial position is the other equinox, the one in March, which is identical.

Thus, September and October full Moons are unique in that they parade across the sky the same way as the Sun during those months. This is the only time when this happens.

Other phases? Different story. The first quarter Moon always behaves the way the Sun will, three months in the future. So during the next first quarter (half Moon) on September 23, expect it to match the Sun’s behavior three months later, in late December. That’s the lowest Sun of the year.

The coming first quarter Moon will “ride super low” as it crosses the sky. And those conditions apply for a few days before and after each lunar phase. Also remember that low Moons are often more yellow or orange, and tend to look much larger, so there’s that, too.

Finally there’s the last quarter Moon, which is the other half Moon. We just had one, and the next will happen October 9. It always behaves like the Sun did three months in the past. Meaning, in early July. Thus it rides super high.

To review, the full Moon travels opposite from your current Sun—when the Sun rides high, the full Moon rides low. The first quarter acts like the sun will behave three months in the future. The last quarter Moon performs the way the sun did three months in the past.

Memorize all that and the Moon’s path across the sky will never be a surprise.

Why does the moon looks like having different filters sometimes? - Astronomy

There are two reasons. First of all, it depends what time of day you are looking at the moon. For example, if you go outside tonight at 7:00 and tomorrow at 11:00, you would see the moon in two very different places in the sky. Not only that, but all the stars would be in different places in the sky as well! This is because the earth is spinning. It takes 24 hours for the the earth to spin once around, which means that from our point of view (sitting on the earth's surface) it looks like the sky and everything in it is moving around us once per 24 hours. (This is the same reason that the sun rises and sets every day, giving us daytime and nighttime.)

But what would happen if you went outside on the second night at the exact same time you went out on the first night (7:00)? The stars will be in almost the same part of the sky as they were the first night. (Since you waited 24 hours, they had time to "move" around the earth once and get back to where they were before.) But the moon will be in a different place! In fact, you would have to wait a little while (usually an extra 30 minutes or an hour) until it got back to the same place as it was the night before. So what happened? How come the moon "fell behind" everything else?

The answer is that the moon is moving. All the stars in the sky are pretty much standing still - they only look like they're moving because the earth is spinning, as I said above. But the moon is actually moving in orbit around the earth - it takes about a month for it to complete one circle around us. So the moon's motion has two parts to it. It looks like it's moving around the earth once per day along with everything else, but in addition to that it is actually moving around the earth once per month. That is what makes it move to a different place on the sky.

It is even possible to watch the moon move, if you are patient enough. If you carefully keep track of the moon and a nearby star for an hour or so, you should be able to see the distance between them change!

This page was last updated on July 18, 2015.

About the Author

Dave Rothstein

Dave is a former graduate student and postdoctoral researcher at Cornell who used infrared and X-ray observations and theoretical computer models to study accreting black holes in our Galaxy. He also did most of the development for the former version of the site.

We haven’t discussed solar filters, and I intend to make them the subject of a separate article.

But I want to take a moment to issue a warning: some inexpensive telescopes come with a “Sun Filter” that is a very dark piece of glass that screws into the back of an eyepiece.

These are very dangerous and should never be used. The magnified heat of the sun is concentrated on the dark filter and can cause it to crack, suddenly passing the magnified sunlight through into your eye. The result will be instant and permanent blindness.

If your telescope came with one of these black screw-in “Sun Filters”, destroy it immediately before you or a loved one are injured.

I’ll expand on this in another article eventually, but: The only safe way to view the sun is with a filter at the objective end of the telescope (the far end from the eyepiece), preventing most of the solar energy from ever entering the telescope, or with a sophisticated device at the eyepiece end that rejects most of the solar energy before it hits the eyepiece.

Furthermore, the only safe solar filters are specialized devices made specifically for astronomy. No material you have around your house (not dark glass, sunglasses, soot, etc.) makes a safe solar filter.

Why Does the Moon Sometimes Look Huge?

Have you ever seen the moon floating above the horizon of your city, and noticed that it looked oddly huge? I sure have. In fact, I've seen the effect in lots of popular media, including that one iconic shot from E.T. and other "supermoon" photos. But aside from movie magic, why does this happen in real life? If the moon gets bigger in the sky, it would have to get much closer to the Earth -- and while the moon's orbit does bring it a bit closer at times, it doesn't come close enough to account for the massively visible change in size. So how do we explain this effect?

There are several things going on here. First up, let's stipulate that our moon is really big, relative to other moons we see in our solar system -- our moon is roughly a quarter of the diameter of our planet. That's huge, and what that means from our perspective on the ground is that the moon is always quite large -- even sometimes large enough to block out the sun (in the case of solar eclipses), though the sun is of course much larger and farther away. The other major factor appears to be psychological. When the moon appears to be near other objects (as it tends to be when near the horizon), our brains register its relative hugeness and effectively inflate its size because we finally see its size relative to other objects. When the moon is all alone up in the sky, with tiny points of light around it, we have no frame of reference -- though it's still the same size it would be if by the horizon. (A related effect occurs when you can see the big ol' moon in the sky on a sunny day -- it looks weirdly big, perhaps because the sun is also up there.) Finally, there is one more odd effect relative to items approaching the horizon. but I'll leave that last one for this most excellent ASAP Science video to explain:

How you experienced the extra-huge moon? Have you tried what they suggest in this video -- looking at it upside down? I have not, though I encourage you all to try the next time the moon is near the horizon.

Watch the video: Das passiert mit dem Mond am 27. Juli! (June 2022).

A gibbous moon is between a full moon and a half moon, or between a half moon and a full moon.

A half moon looks like half a circle. It is sometimes called a quarter moon (this Moon has completed one quarter of an orbit around the Earth from either the full or new position and one quarter of the moon's surface is visible from Earth).