Simulated image courtesy of Tom Ruen.

Moon at First Quarter

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Moon feed

Objects: The Moon
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The sky at

The Moon will pass first quarter phase, appearing prominent in the evening sky and setting in the middle of the night.

From Cambridge , it will be visible from soon after it rises, at 11:52, until soon before it sets at 23:36.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, it appears almost exactly half illuminated.

The Moon orbits the Earth once every four weeks, causing its phases to cycle through new moon, first quarter, full moon, last quarter, and back to new moon once every 29.5 days.

As it progresses through this cycle, it is visible at different times of day. At first quarter, it appears high in the sky at sunset before sinking towards the horizon and setting in the middle of the night. More information about the Moon's phases is available here.

Observing the Moon at first quarter

Over coming days, the Moon will set later each day, becoming visible for more of the night. Within a few days, it will not make it very far above the eastern horizon before nightfall. By the time it reaches full phase, it will be visible for much of the night, rising at around dusk and setting at around dawn.

Its daily progress is charted below, with all times are given in Cambridge local time.

Date Sun
sets at
sets at
Altitude of Moon
at sunset
Direction of Moon
at sunset
14 Dec 202316:1117:4010°south-west
15 Dec 202316:1118:5718°south-west
16 Dec 202316:1220:1626°south
17 Dec 202316:1221:3432°south
18 Dec 202316:1222:5037°south
19 Dec 202316:1300:0440°south-east
20 Dec 202316:1301:1740°south-east
21 Dec 202316:1302:3038°south-east
22 Dec 202316:1403:4434°east
23 Dec 202316:1404:5728°east
24 Dec 202316:1506:0821°east
25 Dec 202316:1607:1213°north-east

The exact moment of first quarter

The exact moment of first quarter is defined as the time when the Moon's ecliptic longitude is exactly 90° away from the Sun's ecliptic longitude, as observed from the center of the Earth. However, the Moon does not appear in any way special at this instant in time, and a first quarter moon can be observed at any time in the evening sky.

At the moment it reaches first quarter, the Moon's distance from the Earth will be 371,000 km. Its celestial coordinates will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
The Moon 23h53m20s 3°03'S Pisces 32'11"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 19 Dec 2023

The sky on 19 December 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

7-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


7 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:34 12:10 16:47
Venus 03:48 08:55 14:02
Moon 11:54 17:53 00:04
Mars 06:28 10:59 15:30
Jupiter 13:16 20:05 02:53
Saturn 10:52 16:09 21:26
All times shown in EST.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

19 Dec 2023  –  Moon at First Quarter
26 Dec 2023  –  Full Moon
03 Jan 2024  –  Moon at Last Quarter
11 Jan 2024  –  New Moon

Image credit

Simulated image courtesy of Tom Ruen.





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