Principal and Intermediate Phases of the Moon Infographic

The moon holds an important place in our lives; it has inspired many stories, poems, and even certain practices in some religions. Some cultures follow the lunar calendar, which is based on the cycles and phases of the moon. Throughout each cycle, there are various parts of the moon that reflects light from the sun onto Earth. These parts are what are called the moon phases. 

There are two kinds of moon phases: principal/primary and intermediate. The principal ones are:

  • New Moon
  • First Quarter
  • Full Moon
  • Last Quarter

The four intermediate phases are: 

  • Waxing crescent
  • Waxing gibbous
  • Waning Gibbous
  • Waning crescent

While these phases are fairly simple to understand, the main difference lies in how they occur. A primary phase will occur at a particular point and be determined by the orbit position of the Moon. Some people on earth might be able to observe it, while other won’t, depending on their location on Earth. On the other hand, intermediate phases don’t have a particular moment, but last for an average of 7.4 days each. 

The phases of the moon also determine the lunar and solar eclipses. For instance, lunar eclipses occur with a full Moon, while solar eclipses occur when there’s a new Moon. If we want to understand the moon by the numbers better, here’s a summary of where and when the various phases occur.

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Principal and Intermediate Phases of the Moon