How to tell at a glance if the Moon is waxing or waning

Do you know how to tell at a glance whether the Moon is waxing or waning? Well, if you don’t, I’ll tell you how to do it — but first, an interlude:

So… I just need you to focus on two things: the Moon’s shadow, and the phrase ‘Wax on, wax off’.

As it’s read, ‘wax on’ is on the left, and ‘wax off’ (that is to say, ‘wane’) is on the right. So if the Moon’s shadow is on the left, that means ‘wax on’ — it’s waxing. And if the shadow is on the right, that means ‘wax off’ — it’s waning.

So simple, and yet it’s taken me a lifetime to realise it!

[A minor complication: The more astute of you who have actually watched the clip above may have noticed that when Daniel is doing ‘wax on’, he uses his right hand; and he uses his left hand for ‘wax off’. Which confuses things just a little bit; but if you think of the Man in the Moon as the one doing the Karate training, from that perspective the shadow when waxing is on the right (wax on) and it’s on the left when waning (wax off). So that works, too.]

Addendum: I had a sudden thought, wondering about whether this rule of thumb would work for those in the Southern hemisphere… a little digging revealed that it’s different ‘down under’; the sides are reversed, so it’s waxing when the shadow is on the right and waning when it’s on the left (and apparently the Moon itself looks upside down, too!).

Header image adapted from
white round shape on black background
by by Mason Kimbarovsky on Unsplash

About pendantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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12 Responses to How to tell at a glance if the Moon is waxing or waning

  1. Never knew this. I always wondered how a person could figure it out at a glance. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome back… :-) I have been noticing much more going off with the moon recently … Like rising a few degrees off its normal point.. but that maybe just me..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s really nice that you have returned!! I wondered where you’d gone; now I know it was the dark side of the moon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Long time no read! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Eric Alagan says:

    Looks like you waxed off a little there – welcome back, Colin :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hariod Brawn says:

    Welcome back Pendantry.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Let’s Get Inspired by pendantry of the blog called Wibble – Part 1 of 2 – ThoughtsnLifeBlog

  8. Can I make candles out of the moon wax?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Wax off! (A Moon epiphany) | Wibble

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