We all were fascinated with the Moon in our childhood days simply because it looks so different every night. It grows from a thin crescent curve to a round-shaped disk. The actual cause behind the ever-changing appearances of the Moon is the lunar cycle.
One half of the Moon that faces the Sun remains lit by sunlight all the time. The other half of the Moon which is away from the Sun is dark. As the Moon moves on the elliptical shaped orbit, the angular distance between the Moon and the Earth changes from time to time.
Moreover, the Earth is also rotating around the Sun in its oval-shaped orbit. Thus the angular position of the Moon and the Earth is changing constantly. These changing angles brings about changes in the appearances of the Moon.
Main Phases of Lunar Cycle
The Moon starts drifting from the new moon phase towards the full moon phase. During this phase, the size of the illumined portion of the Moon is increasing and less than fifty percent of the Moon is visible to us. You can see the waxing crescent moon between sunset and midnight.
During this period, the Moon is lit from left to right. This Moon can be seen by joggers and morning walkers early in the morning as it sets after sunrise.
The Third Quarter
This is phase when the illumined portion of the Moon reduces to half of its size in the full moon phase. Here, the right half of the Moon remains unilluminated. You can see it late at night or early in the morning.
This is an interesting phase as the Moon is getting smaller and you can see only a thin slice of the Moon and that too, not after midnight.
The Moon starts a new journey all over again. This is often referred to as dark moon as the Moon is not visible at all.
Researchers and scientists believe that lunar cycles affect sea tides and may cause some climatic changes as well. Apart from the scientific observations, lunar cycles are also closely watched by astrologers. They think that lunar cycles have strong influences on the way men and women react to a certain situation at a given point of time.