Moon Phase ~ Waxing or Waning?

This is an article I contributed to that gives a simple explanation for determining whether the Moon is waxing or waning. The article is from Wiki-How, an excellent source of many How To articles.

How to Ascertain the Moon Phase

from wikiHow

Can’t tell whether the moon is waxing or waning? Is it going to be a Full Moon next week, or Dark Moon?

The Moon’s phases grow from right to left in the Northern Hemisphere, backwards to how we – in the West – read. So the Waxing Moon begins on the right side of the moon. And the Waning Moon ends on the left side. But how can you remember this easily?

Here’s a simple way to determine whether the moon is waxing or waning.


  1. Flatten your right hand, with your fingers together and your thumb sticking out.
  2. Hold your hand out at arm’s length in front of you. Tilt your thumb towards the ground.
  3. See how the line along your thumb and first finger makes a curve, roughly like a backwards letter “‘C'”? It actually looks sort of like this: ) This is the shape of the Waxing Moon. If the Moon’s curve fits along this right-hand curve, it is a Waxing Moon.
  4. Commit it to memory. One way to remember this is to think of drawing in wax. Most people are right-handed, and if they were to draw in wax, they’d use their right hand. So if the Moon fits in your right-hand curve, it is waxing.
  5. Do the same with the left hand. This makes a shape like this:  (
    This is the shape of the Waning Moon. If the moon fits in this curve, you know it is getting smaller every day, going toward the new moon / dark moon.

Method 2: Cheat moon phases That’s the moon phase calendar you see on the sidebar.

Method 3: Keep it Simple

  • Moon on the right, getting bigger every night (waxing).
  • When the moon is waning, it is fading to the left until there’s no moon remaining.


  • If you have difficulty remembering that waning means getting smaller, you can think that waning means weakening. Weakening has the word waning inside it: W-e-A-k-e-NING.
  • Waxing is easy to remember if you remind yourself that when you wax the floor, it grows in brightness and shine ~ just like the moon grows in brightness when it is waxing.
  • (Important Note: If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, this process is reversed.)
  • NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is a vast storehouse of knowledge about celestial phenomena. If you want to know anything at all about the moon, including when the next eclipse is going to be, check their website.

Sources and Citations

Moon Phases & Wicca – Original source of information, used with permission by author.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Ascertain the Moon Phase. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


29 thoughts on “Moon Phase ~ Waxing or Waning?

    1. Hi, Desha.

      There isn’t a specific date for the Waxing Moon. It’s a period of time that lasts around two weeks instead of a single day.

      The Moon starts waxing when the Moon is a New Moon. In January 2010, there’s a New Moon on January 15th. The Moon continues to wax, and you see more and more light on the face of the Moon until January 30th when the Moon is Full. After the 30th, the Moon is said to be waning, meaning that it gets less and less full and you see less and less light on the face of the Moon.

      Hope this helps,

    1. Hi, May.

      The Moon is waxing when the light part of the Moon grows larger each night. The Moon is waning after the Full Moon, and the lighted side of the Moon grows smaller each night.


  1. Would love a copy…..Just for women free report…..

    Just joined last month….great site….

    I love to use the moon’s magical energy on special days….light a candle and imagine your dreams coming to life…or whatever project, could be a new home…new baby…anything new….just use the magic of the new moon 🙂

    1. “Imagine.” I love that word, Ann-Marie. The Moon and intentions make such a great pair. I’m finding more and more than by working with the moon daily (but not fanatically), I am able to focus my sometimes too-busy mind.

  2. dont you have that backwards………. when i do my rite hand it makes a C this way and when i do it with my left its more like this )…………. just saying

  3. is their a way i can get the dates of the waxing and wanning moon sent to me monthly vi-email bright Blessings to you , carol aka (KIZZYY) Iam in Eastern Time

    1. Hi, Carol.

      Here’s a quick and easy rule for knowing when the Moon is waxing or waning. From the New Moon on, the Moon is waxing. From the Full Moon on, the Moon is waning. Lots of calendars note the New and Full Moons. If you have a calendar like that, or know the dates of the New and Full Moons, you’re set.


  4. This is awesome! I will be teaching sixth grade science next year and need an easy way to help kids (and myself!) remember the phases. Thanks!!!

    1. I hope the budding scientists find it helpful, Alice. Glad you like it. 🙂

  5. There is a much easier way to remember it than this – in the Northern Hemisphere at least.

    If the moon is making a c (i.e. facing the right way for a letter c), drawing an imaginary line down the open side of this c makes a q, which tells you that it is ‘quiescing’ (getting smaller).

    If the moon is making a backwards c, drawing a line down the open side makes a p, which tells you that it is ‘progressing’ (getting bigger).

    q = quiescing
    p = progressing

    If you don’t like the ‘quiescing’ part you really just need to remember that p=progressing.

  6. Thank You ,auntie for responding to my question on moon phases, very helpful, Bright blessings to You. Carol aka KIZZYY

  7. Is the moon in it’s waning phase today, 31 December 2011. I am battling with understanding the explanation given. If not what date will it be waning and waxing during January 2012?

    1. Hi, Gail.

      I’ve posted the calendars for January and the rest of 2012. The moon was waxing on December 31st because it was between the New and Full Moon. The moon wanes between the Full and New Moon. Hope this helps.

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