Natural Sightings #555 - First Quarter Moon.jpg

The First Quarter moon phase, as seen in Bear Valley Springs on Nov. 4.

Toshimi Kristof took this photo on Nov. 4 of the First Quarter moon phase from her home in Bear Valley Springs. There are four phases in each 28-day moon cycle: New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Last Quarter.

The New Moon rises with the sun and so is invisible during the day, and can only be seen late in the day near the western horizon, for a short time after the sun has set. It appears as a thin crescent.

The First Quarter, as shown in Toshimi's photo, appears as a half moon — the term can be confusing since "Quarter" in this case refers to the quarter (1/4 or seven days) of the moon cycle, not because only a quarter of the moon's surface is illuminated.

About a week later comes the Full Moon phase, and after another week is the Last Quarter, when the moon again appears half full, but is waning (getting smaller) instead of waxing (getting larger). Seven days after the Last Quarter comes the New Moon and the cycle repeats.

It is easy to tell at a glance whether the moon is waxing or waning. A waxing moon like the one shown here will be a "right-hand moon," meaning that if you hold up your right hand to the moon, the curve of the right-hand index finger and thumb will match the increasing crescent of the moon.

Conversely, a waning moon is a "left-hand moon," and the crescent will match the curve of your left-hand index finger and thumb. Tehachapi skies often provide dramatic views of the moon, with the interplay between the moon, clouds and mountains.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for moon is müzi, pronounced MUH-zee.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.