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A Solitary Sight

The waning gibbous moon is a small gray circle at the top middle of this photo. Some details of the Moon's surface can be seen. The top half of the photo is black, while the bottom half is a hazy blue.
NASA, ESA/Andreas Mogensen

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen snapped a photo of the waning gibbous moon from the International Space Station as it soared 260 miles above the Atlantic Ocean near the northeast coast of South America on Sept. 30, 2023.

Waning gibbous is one of eight moon phases, occurring after the full moon. The Sun always illuminates half of the Moon while the other half remains dark, but how much we can see of that illuminated half changes as the Moon travels through its orbit. As the Moon begins its journey back toward the Sun, the lighted side appears to shrink, but the Moon’s orbit is simply carrying it out of view from our perspective.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA/Andreas Mogensen